Saturday, March 17, 2012

Declaration of Interdependence

The twenty poems in Declaration of Interdepencence by Janet Wong are timely. Using the language of her poem entitled Occupy the TV, we are in the midst of election year "dah-baits," where "guys are baited/Into acting so ridiculous/ they seem uneducated."

One of the issues Wong address is the fact that children are only represented by our government through the political action of others, mostly relatives. The following is an excerpt from one of her poems:

                                         WE THE PEOPLE
                                          There's a crazy guy:

                                          Scares kids on our street
                                         kicks old dogs
                                          pours oil down the drain
                                         cusses loud about
                                         hates "wasting money"
                                         on schools

                                         And he has the right to vote

                                         Then there's me, just fifteen: 

                                         I worry about war
                                         watch the 6 o'clock news
                                          raise money for the poor
                                          plant trees in the park

                                          But where's my vote?

What voice does the child in the poem have in the political process? The poem goes on to say that she has the power only to make sure the adults in her life, her mother, her aunt, and her grandmother, cast their ballots.

I find this poem particularly meaningful as the three who are to support the child with their votes are women, members of the gender that has lately come under attack in the dah-baits, and whose rights are threatened on a daily basis.  

Will a large number of women in the upcoming election vote against their own interests? Will a woman's  right to make personal decisions about their own health be taken away? Hopefully, there will be a few wise children to guide them.

Teachers who want to engage kids in the political process might find an ally in Janet Wong.   

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