Friday, July 02, 2010


by Tony Medina, illustrated by Jees Joshua Watson. Lee & Low Books, 2009 (review copy). I was in DC this past week at ALA's annual meeting/conference for librarians, authors, illustrators, bloggers, publishers, and editors. (Yep, I slipped in bloggers 'cause we love it too!) I was thrilled to attend Marilyn Singer and Barbara Genco's  seventh annual Poetry Blast!, and Tony Medina was one of the featured poets.  (ETA: read Laura Salas's post here to get tips she picked up with some serious note-taking and see her photos of the poets.) He read a few poems from this fabulous book and it was awesome to hear him. I was completely star-struck to be in attendance at this amazing event. A bunch of us went to dinner afterward at Zaytinya (OMG Delicious and gluten free for me!!!) I got a chance to sit and chat with him. I was gushing over the book and telling how I had blogged about it and my boys and I love it... etc. etc. Then I came home and looked up the blog post to re-read what I had said... and I couldn't find one. Wha? Didn't I blog it on a Poetry Friday this past winter? or Spring? No? How can that be? We love this book!!!! OMG I met Tony Medina and lied to his face about blogging his book!!!!

Now I have to blog a public confession. We really do love this book. And I swear my boys and I have read it dozens of times and they adore it. Tony has completely captured the rhythms and cadence of Bob Marley in his poems. So much so that I have to jump up and find my iPod and put some Marley on every time we read it... which is a lot...

At the Poetry Blast Medina read from "My Heart the Island":

Mama just a caramel country girl shy as can be
and Papa many many years older than she

Papa is a white man so I've been told
My face a map of Africa in Europe's hold...

His voice was powerful and passionate. The poem itself brings one a strong feeling of the longing and love in young Marley's heart as he is left with Mama "alone to scrape and fuss..." Watson's vibrant, evocative paintings of the family divided, with Mama and young boy on one side of the text and Papa riding off into the sunset on a horse washed with gold on the far side of the next page, perfectly accents and extends the poem. The room responded with a hush, a gasp, and then resounding applause.

The poem from this collection that I would like to share with you for Friday Poetry is part of this one:
I Am a Rasta Man

A troubadour for the common man
Singing what a Rasta sings

Reggae music from
My guitar strings

Rasta man lyrics
Of peace and love...

Look for the book I and I Bob Marley to read more of this wonderful poem and enjoy the stunning illustrations. You can get a preview of the artwork at Jesse Watson's web page here.

Watson and Medina got together for a book talk at Lee & Low last fall, discussing what Marley's music means to them and how they expressed that in their book.  And here is an interview Medina did at The Brown Bookshelf last  February. He is a professor at Howard U. in Washington DC and has four other children's books out as well as several volumes of poetry for adults. More about Tony Medina here.

Friday Poetry is hosted by Amy at The Poem Farm today. Enjoy your weekend and Happy Fourth of July!! Go out to a parade and celebrate!!


Mary Lee said...

Way off topic, but WOW! New blog design! I sort of miss the bottles, but I won't whine -- love the greenery, too.

Yeah, I really missed meeting you at ALA, but I missed Kelly Fineman, too, so I'm still down by a couple of Poetry Princesses. Our paths will cross sooner or later. I'm sure of it!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I know. I thought it was high time I did something about the old tired template. And then I decided, why not use my real face on here..... I love the bottle photo though. I'll have to find another way to use it.

Lone Star Ma said...


Amy L V said...

You are funny! And honest! I'll have to get this book for my mother-in-law...she loves Bob Marley. Thank you for sharing it here.
It sounds like ALA was incredible!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Love the new look, too.

And I gotta see this book.

Jacqueline said...

Beautiful black images are out there, we just have to patronize them. Check out Cherub-You Shall Never Walk Alone DVD. In this DVD Douglas, a young black male, learns that he has God's rod on the left side to help us stand; God's staff on the right side to guide us; we stand on a solid rock, Jesus Christ; angels are all around us... that is, with God on our side, we are never alone.