the ghosts of women once girls

Aja Monet

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somewhere a little girl is reading aloud

in the middle of a dirt road. she smiles

at the sound of her own voice escaping

the spine of a book. she feeds on her hunger

to know herself. she has not yet been taught

to dim, she sits with the stars beneath her feet,

a constellation of things to come.

as if a swallowed moon, she glimmers.

her head wrap rolls out in a gutter, bare feet

scat the earth, the ghosts of women once girls

make bridge of the dust dancing behind her,

she decorates the ground in dimples

she stomps suffering out the spirit

hooves drumming the earth in circles

she holds gladness in her mouth

like a secret teased out of a giggle

joy like her sadness overflows

she is not the opinions of others

she is of visions and imagination

somewhere a little girl is reading aloud in the middle of a dirt road.

she smiles at the sound of her own voice escaping the spine of a book.

she is a room full

of listening, lending herself

to her own words

somewhere

 

a deep remembering of what was, she survives all.

Aja Monet, "the ghosts of women once girls," from My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter. Copyright © 2017 by Aja Monet. Reprinted by permission of Haymarket Books.

Source: My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter (Haymarket Books, 2017)

Dive in: 
  1. What is the effect of the repeated lines “somewhere a little girl is reading aloud in the middle of a dirt road. she smiles at the sound of her own voice escaping the spine of a book.”?
     
  2. Why is the girl standing in the middle of a dirt road? Is she alone?
     
  3. What is the overall tone of the poem? Joyful? Sadness? 
     
  4. Does the tone change? If so, where does it shift? 
     
  5. Who is the speaker of the poem? To whom is the poem addressed? 
     
  6. Poet aja monet values education through a political and social justice lens. If this poem is serving a political statement, what would that be? 
     
  7. What relationship do the ghosts of women have to the little girl? 
     
  8. Prompt
    1. If you were to choose a musical instrument to accompany the background/ambience of this poem, what instrument would best support the poem’s lead voice? What tempo, melody and volume would it play? Find some instrumentation (on YouTube, Spotify, etc) that matches your imagination and free write a poem for 15 minutes. 

or
 

  1. See if you can dig up an old photograph from 2 or more generations before you, from a family album. Who is in the photo? What books would they have read when they were younger? Write a poem based on these discoveries in 30 lines or less.

 

Resources 

 

“aja monet on Black Power live” -- watch, listen and experience aja’s poetry through her own voice, and with musical instrumentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it_QK2YiTZM

 

Watch this stunning recitation of aja’s poem by Poetry In Voice participant, Natalia Alvarez: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LRNyrLFx_Q  

 

 

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