Recently I have been reading the book Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by Peter Ackroyd. It is all about one of my favorite time periods in history and full of gory details about how people of the “wrong” religious faith at this time in England were tortured and put to death. It goes into great detail about the cantankerous Henry VIII and his whims. It details how his daughter, Elizabeth I, could not let down her guard lest she lose her power and her crown. For my Candy Heart Writing 2017 post, I’m going to connect two hearts I pulled out of the bag — NOT NOW and TRUE LOVE — with some of what I am reading about, especially as it pertains to Elizabeth. First, there were two great dilemmas that Elizabeth faced as queen: (1) whom should she marry? and (2) what should she do with her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots? When she first became queen, Elizabeth’s courtiers urged her to marry, promoting a match with the king of Spain and also with a duke of France. She would frequently put off discussions of the topic of her marriage by essentially saying to her council and Parliaments, “Not now!” (As in, “I don’t want to discuss it!”) Additionally, she would instead say something to the effect that the country of England was her “true love,” and that she was wedded to the country and its people. Marrying another, she argued, would distract her from her true purpose, which was to live long to serve and guide her people. As mentioned, Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, was caught numerous times conspiring against Elizabeth to seize the crown of England, to unite the crowns of Scotland and England. Elizabeth’s cabinet approached her, asking what to do with Mary? Should they execute her? Elizabeth answered again, “Not now,” until she could put off the decision no longer. Finally, after eighteen years, Elizabeth had Mary executed. If you enjoy learning about the exploits of Henry VIII or reading about strong women in history, this is the book for you.
In Celebration of “Random Acts of Poetry Day” . . .
Today is the commemoration of Random Acts of Poetry Day. To celebrate this day, people are encouraged to
engage in moments of guerilla poetry. Take your chalk in hand and scrawl the words of your heart across sidewalks and alley walls, ramble madly, like a sweaty toothed madman, or wax lyrical about the most important love of your heart. Better with word than pen? Then stand on a street corner shouting poetry to the wind, imparting onto all the joy and pain, sorrow and exultation of your soul, heart, and mind. To be a poet is to walk the wild lands of impossibility and imagination, and Random Acts of Poetry Day is your opportunity to, for just a moment, bring others into the world in which you live (Days of the Year).
So, to that end, I am posting an “I AM” poem. I frequently assign students to do this at the beginning of each academic year, but we did something a little different this year to change things up. So, I’ll post it here now for your perusal and enjoyment. Even though I wrote this years ago, it still holds true for me today.
I AM intense and driven.
I WONDER about a lot of things . . . that’s why I read part of the encyclopedia every night.
I HEAR a comic “duh duh duh” when my mom says, “We need to talk.”
I SEE myself as a grown-up Lucy van Pelt from Peanuts.
I WANT just a little more time to myself.
I AM intense and driven.
I PRETEND that I’m having conversations with people while I’m driving so that when we really do talk, I say what I want to say correctly.
I FEEL challenged when I have five things to do at once and I don’t know which one to tackle first at the expense of the others.
I TOUCH heaven just a little bit whenever I hear one of my children say, “I love you, Mommy.”
I WORRY about failing or not “measuring up.”
I CRY when I think about children who are seriously ill, malnourished, or unloved.
I AM intense and driven.
I UNDERSTAND, as Nietzsche wrote, “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”
I SAY drunk drivers should receive drastically stiffer penalties for their crime.
I DREAM about nightmarishly bizarre scenarios, usually.
I TRY to teach things differently and more effectively with each passing year.
I HOPE that I inspire someone this year.
I AM intense and driven.
— Jenny Rovira
Valentine’s Day Bonus Opportunity
I will never offer “extra credit” to just one person. (And I usually ask you about your missing assignments first. Doing those and getting them turned in sometimes makes a world of difference.) Anyway . . . Whenever I offer a “bonus” opportunity, I offer it to everyone — to be fair.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, and because I love candy hearts, although I am very particular about which kind I like (see this post where I briefly explain the difference), I am offering a Candy Hearts Writing Bonus opportunity.
Here’s how it works:
(1) I will give you three candy hearts. They each (of course) will have a message on them.
(2) You connect one heart’s message to something in history (for a history bonus) in 250 words posted on your blog.
(3) You connect one heart’s message to something you are currently reading (for an ELA bonus) in 250 words posted on your blog.
(4) I am giving you three hearts just in case . . . it gives you a little more to work with.
(5) You may do the ELA bonus, the HSS bonus, or both.
(6) You may eat the hearts when you are done.
Here’s how it might work for ELA:
It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m celebrating by eating candy hearts. All candy hearts contain a message, and one of mine reads “Got cha!” This makes me think of what I am currently reading with my students in literature. It is a book entitled Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang. It is more of a personal narrative or autobiography, rather than a novel, and it tells about the author’s personal experiences living through the Cultural Revolution in China, which started in 1966. Ji-li was a model student whose world was turned upside down when she discovered that her family (and those of some of her friends) had skeletons in their closet, according to the Communist Chinese government. Ji-li’s grandfather had been a landlord, and her family was accused of having bourgeois tendencies. Because the government was encouraging a campaign of getting rid of the four olds — old habits, old ideas, old traditions, and old culture — families were encouraged to destroy anything that fit that criteria. Old china, old photo albums, old traditional clothing . . . all had to be thrown out. Of course, some families didn’t want to give up these precious family heirlooms. So they hid them. At the same time, though, bands of youth known as the Red Guards, took it upon themselves to search various homes, ransacking them for evidence of “four olds” stashes. Drum and gong sounds alerted neighborhoods that the bands of Red Guards were coming. Whose house would they visit this time? Ji-li and her family lived in a state of nervous anxiety, wondering when their family’s apartment would be targeted. Days passed. “Got cha!” It finally happened one night. The Jiang family was subjected to the dreaded search; after the Red Guards left, it took two days to set their house back to rights. I thank goodness this is nothing I have ever experienced, nor am likely to experience here in the U. S.