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
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)
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.”?
Why is the girl standing in the middle of a dirt road? Is she alone?
What is the overall tone of the poem? Joyful? Sadness?
Does the tone change? If so, where does it shift?
Who is the speaker of the poem? To whom is the poem addressed?
Poet aja monet values education through a political and social justice lens. If this poem is serving a political statement, what would that be?
What relationship do the ghosts of women have to the little girl?
- 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.
- 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.
“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