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Writers Against Racism: ROOTS AND BLUES by Arnold Adoff

Tomorrow begins my first round of chemotherapy and I thought I’d share with you some of my reading materials I will be bringing along, since the treatment sessions last about 2 1/2 hours. *ugh*

His belief is that, “writing a poem is making music with words and space.” -Arnold Adoff (comes via PoetStudy)

Back in January, the late Virginia Hamilton’s husband, writer and poet, Arnold Adoff, sent me an autographed copy of his latest book, ROOTS AND BLUES [Clarion Books; None edition (December 22, 2010)].  I was immediately enthralled because there was a historical depth and a rhythm to each page of his poetry that immediately empowered me. Today’s students and adults, from time to time, need that kind of reality/historical dose.  School Library Journal wrote a brilliant review, Gr 5 Up-This exquisite collection of poems and paintings celebrates the history and culture of blues music. Adoff traces the horrific journey of slaves to America and the role that music played as a means of survival, of passing on “the ancestor words.” Even as the lyrics describe harsh realities, the innate beauty of music made with sticks, spoons, or whatever was at hand speaks of an irrepressible hope: “Under the hot sun: the chop chop/hoe/measures out the beats of freedom.”

I’m also intrigued to learn so much about Arnold’s son, Jaime Adoff, who is also a writer/poet. He’s definitely someone to watch, in the literary world. Click here for his bio and contact information.

Here’s a video clip from last Friday’s post-haircut ‘event’. Oh! Pardon my  sister Julia’s ‘videographer/reporter’ coverage, as she handles the camera and the questioning.  

Feel free to email me with book ideas for my chemo visits.

Thanks in advance!

My new haircut Friday, July 1, 2011


  1. my dear amy:
    everything e l s e pales in comparison to health and this struggle you are beginning…of course i have always loved your focus and strength of conviction…now i send you my most positive thoughts and deep feelings…and ask you to turn your own thoughts and insights within to help in your victory….
    i will share this with you: i don’t drive(old new yorker who failed the test in the bronx of my youth…five times….
    (on a 48 dodge….)
    so sweetest virginia would always drive…and we would drive to her chemo appointments….i would sit during those hours…eating some of the raisins…talking and listening closely…then she would drive us to the local krogers on the way home…to do some shopping…get out among people…(she would keep all of her speaking engagements nationwide…despite…first radiation…then two rounds of chemo…
    she was many things…but always that archetypal midwestern woman…strong beyond reckoning…independent and superbly existential….
    you do what you h a v e to do…and you w i l l overcome….(daughters of the survivors of that infamous middle passage heritage..(and we would always paraphrase faulkner from his nobel acceptance speech….
    (we not only s u r v i v e…we will p r e v a i l….)
    all love: arnold

  2. Amy,
    I follow you quite often on SLJ. I love your work and look forward to many more. My thoughts and good wishes are with you. You will overcome,
    My best,

    • Good to see you here, David. I followed you on FB and am looking forward to learning more about your work. Thank you for your support and well wishes.

  3. B Herrera says:

    Thanks for the book suggestion, and love your hair. I once had mine cut that short (no excuse; just bored on a mall visit during regional academic competition and told the hair stylest to “do something different.” Won’t do that again as I don’t look good with my hair that short. With my thin and light, almost white in spots, hair I looked like I had bald spots. Not the smoothest look, but it was definitely something different. Good luck on your treatments. Just like Virginia, my friend with the scarfs would drive to treatment and stop to eat on the way home. She taught till noon, took off to San Antonio in time for the last chemo or radiation appointment of the day, then was back at school the next day. How she did it, I don’t know. She always took someone with her (her son or me) but we did nothing but keep her company. She showed me the power of positive thinking. And I love the scarf. It definitely brings attention to your beauty. I send my best wishes your way.

  4. August 18 will be the 13th anniversary of the end of treatments for me. You, too, will soon be able to count “the years since…” Be strong, but don’t be afraid to rest and to let others help you. They need that sometimes way more than you do. After this year, you will know yourself in new ways. You will see the world in new ways.

    Take good care. Know there are lots of folks cheering for you!

  5. Stone hearts never bleed; a good heart is a bleeding heart.

    It is always good to know that there are people in the world who are concerned about the rights of others. You sound like such a person. Good luck and continue your goals.