My kids’ take on Sun Said Shine

Well, my short but vivid time as an elementary school teacher has drawn to a close. This Wednesday will be my last day as the "Teacher Logan" of brilliant and shining 3rd and 4th graders. Though they're awesome, my true calling is not that of an elementary school teacher (though it's fun sometimes!). I can see myself working with niños again in the future, but at this point I lack a fundamental patience. They've taught me a lot, but I'm moving on. I have been offered a professor position at Universidad Internacional, one of Cuernavaca's more well-known and beautiful schools. I'll be teaching two sections of Latin American Literature: the Avant-Garde 1900-present and "Latin American Lit. II," both completely in Spanish. Also it's just come down that I will be teaching "Translation III: Spanish-English-Spanish," that one will be taught in Spanglish. Needless to say, this is a pretty big jump, and I'm thrilled. I'm not exactly sure why they think I'm qualified, except that I've got a diploma and passion. We'll see.

But that's next semester. Last week I performed for the first time in four months: I read my story "Sun Said Shine" to my students. I wanted to see how much of it they'd get and what their take on it would be. Apparently the idea of a woman talking to the sun and becoming the moon seems pretty logical to a Mexican 8-year-old. When we got back to the classroom after sitting outside, I asked my third graders to illustrate the story for me and write a couple sentences about it. Here's what they came up with. Nothing against Pedro Día, whose illustrations in the book are great, but the kids nailed it.

Sun Said Shine illustration Fernanda: "The women take a limonade in the garden while the sun hide and the women have a pretty garden."

What can you say? The woman doesn't have much to worry about, she's got a tree that grows cherries, apples and bananas at the same time. A reason to smile, for sure.

Sun Said Shine illustration Efrain: "Hola."

A burning hilltop summit... kinda reminds me of the image I saw in a dream that lead to the poem "What He Dreams of In His Coma." But way more happy.

Sun Said Shine illustration Paola: "The sun pass for the garden of the woman. The woman lives in the end of the earth."

Ah, Paola. She never gives a wrong answer and never stops smiling. A cool abstract take on things...

Sun Said Shine illustration Ricardo: "The old woman is cool. The sun is yellow."

Things to note in the world of Ricardo: the woman not only has pet crocodiles but a jet on the roof of her house (how else would she get into the sky? Duh!). Also check out the lemonade on the arm of the chair. "Helloy" indeed.

Sun Said Shine illustration Hilary: "The son is big. The sun is friends the moon. The woman is friends the sun."

I really like this one. The sun's a little intellectual, the moon is dancing, and the house is painted Mexican style. I'm pretty sure the end of the earth looks a lot like this.

Sun Said Shine illustration Dulce: "The sun... el sol se esta ol cultando."

Ay, pobre Dulce. The world is passing this little girl by a little bit, but she's happy. And so is the sun.

Sun Said Shine illustration Sandra: "The sun is friend the old woman. The always tlak to the sun. The old woman dive and she convert a moon."

Sandra bounces when she walks. Sandra bounces when she is sitting still. Sandra bounces and smiles. And apparently someone sent a blimp out to the end of the earth to drop money on the old woman and her pet teddy bear. What can you say. Sandra bounces.

Sun Said Shine illustration Gabriel: "The friend of the grandmother is very cool and use glasses black is very very cool."

It's funny to see how one thing can catch on and all the students end up doing it. For instance, if you haven't noticed the trend by now, the sun is definitely cool. See the sunglasses? Cool, huh? Get it!? The sun wearing sunglasses?! Oh, third graders. We use the word "cool" a lot in my classes. Cool planet too, Gabriel.

Sun Said Shine illustration Aldo: "The woman always spick with the sun. The sun talk what he sees. The woman drink lemonade when the sun talk whit the woman. The woman say: I did (die) in one year. The woman jump a finish the planet."

That about sums it up. In this one Aldo's got the woman living on top of the globe, very cool. Note that all the continents are a little random, but Mexico's smack in the middle! Right on. The sign says "garden." Good vocabulary, Aldo. Teacher Logan pats himself on the back.

Sun Said Shine illustration Paulo: "The women transform in the moon and she talks with the sun."

Paulo lives in a world all his own. If the world lets him, he'll be an artist someday. At least a once a day he asks me "¿Puedo jugar en silencio?" Can I play silently? I always say yes, and off he goes into his imagination. I do have to remind him every now and again though that if his pencil box keeps talking that loud, I'll have to send both it and Paulo outside while the rest of the class finishes the assignment. He's also a rockin' dancer and English speaker, thanks to his parents. They lived in the U.S. for years illegally before returning and having Paulo.

Sun Said Shine illustration Alexis: "The grandmather is small. The grandmather is pretty. The gandmather have a friends. The grandmather have a car."

The old woman (with wrinkles and a limonade) asks "Helo, do you have friends?" And the sun says "Yes, I have." I think the sun is also wearing tightie underwear. But as Spring the artist pointed out, check out that depth perception on the rocking chair. Rockin' chair indeed. And who can live at the end of the earth without a strange green car that has an exhaust pipe coming out of the roof?

Sun Said Shine illustration Rodrigo: "The women speak sun and drink lemonade of speak and alway see your flower for one day she is moon and light the earth no speak for he friend and she lives in the space."

Wow. What can you say to that? Except that on that in the picture, the old turban-wearing woman is asking the sun "Hello sol have lasagne?" I asked Rodrigo, "Rodrigo, why is the woman talking about lasagne?" To which smiled and shrugged and said "I looked it up in the dictionary, Teacher! Jajajaja." Locos. Puros locos estos chumacos.

Beyond Page vs. Stage: Slam Poetry as an Accessible Form

Ever heard the phrase "slam poetry isn't real poetry?"

Come explore that idea for yourself at a presentation given this Friday, April 22nd at 4:30pm at NAU's DuBois ballroom in Flagstaff. Local poet and NORAZ Poets advisory board member Logan Phillips will present slam poetry as a poetry form, as valid as the more well-known forms of sestinas, villanelles or haiku. Following the lecture, there will be a small panel discussion which will include Prescott poet and advisory board member Daniel H. Seaman.

Part of the 9th Annual Conference at the Peaks, presented by the Organization of Graduate Students of English, the presentation follows this year's theme of "The River of Words: Exploring Fluidity and Dynamism in Literature and Language." Hardly anything is as dynamic as slam poetry, a young form that has exploded across the nation over the last 20 years. So come out and explore the ideas surrounding poetry forms.

NORAZ Poets is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which promotes poetry and poetry events in NORthern AriZona. More information:

Presentation Abstract: Since it’s inception in the mid-1980’s, the competitive art of Poetry Slam has only continued to gain popularity, media exposure and momentum. This year, the fifteenth annual National Poetry Slam will be held just four hours from Flagstaff in Albuquerque, NM. This offers a unique opportunity for our thriving literary community to reflect on the influence and discourse of slam poetry here in Northern Arizona.

Our brief presentation, followed by a small panel discussion, will seek to debunk the “stage vs. page” myth by exploring the characteristics of slam poetry not as the opposite of “page poetry,” but rather as another poetry form. Equally as valid of a form as a sestina or sonnet, slam poetry draws on a long tradition of oral expression and is marked by specific characteristics which define it clearly. These characteristics include distinct uses of repetition, length, subject matter, and yes, even meter. Equally informed by hip-hop, popular culture, stand-up comedy, forensics and “traditional” poetry, slam is very visible and accessible, often acting as an entry point into the literary arts for those who may not have been exposed to them otherwise. This initial exposure often leads to further involvement in the literary community, as we will show using examples from our own area.

Far from being mutually exclusive, slam poetry and the more traditional literary arts stand to gain much from each other. Nowhere in poetry are popular culture and our society so clearly reflected, defined and critiqued as within slam. One could liken the young form to a flash flood entering the wider river of words, adding not only new audience and power, but also seeking to define itself and find its place within the flow of the literary arts.