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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hip Hop Speaks to Children; A Celebration of Poetry With A Beat

Hip Hop Speaks to Children ;

A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
Edited by Nikki Giovanni
Published by Sourcebooks-Jabberwocky/2008
Reviewed by Sojourner Ahebee

We ,young people, need to be grateful for people like Nikki Giovanni because she always is looking for ways to engage us with fabulous poetry. Her latest book recently came out in stores. It is called Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. The book also includes an audio CD. You have two great ways of experiencing this phenomenal book; you can read the works of 42 poets and you can listen to 30 performances of the 51 poems included in this anthology.

And what a range of poets-Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown,Kanye West,Maya Angelou, Common,Eloise Greenfield, Mos Def, Queen Latifah, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Lauren Hill and many more. This anthology really showcases the best of poetry that has a particular movement and beat that appeals especially to young people.
One of my favorite poems included in Hip Hop Speaks to Children; A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat is Ego Tripping by Nikki Giovanni herself. It basically talks about loving yourself and proclaiming how great you are. My favorite line in this poem is “I am so hip even my errors are correct” and my favorite stanza is:

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are semi-precious jewels
On a trip north I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid across three continents

Another one of my favorites poems and recordings included in this book is Ham 'N' Eggs by A Tribe Called Quest. This poem has lots of energy, enthusiasm, and it rhymes. I especially enjoyed Ham 'N' Eggs as it is delivered in a banging way by A Tribe Called Quest. I also enjoyed the poem Ladies First by Queen Latifah. This poem reaches out to young girls, teens, and women. This poem challenges females to demand something of themselves and to reject stereotypes, especially those that limit us . My favorite line in this poem is “I’m divine and my mind expands throughout the universe”. And you know Queen Latifah delivers it in her singular way.

It's the rhythm and the rhyme that unites all of these poets and poems. I really gained an appreciation, from experiencing Hip Hop Speaks to Children, that poetry is a oral medium; it's meant to be delivered with the voice. I highly recommend this book. It can be enjoyed by all ages levels. My grandfather recited along with the recording of Langston Hughes voice, Langston Hughes' poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers. My mom, a teacher, shared the poem Doubtless by Steve Ericson, with her fourth and fifth graders. My girlfriends and I, middle school students, did our interpretation of Nikki Giovanni's Ego Tripping and each of us felt so uplifted and inspired. I guarantee that this book will do the same for you.

Now go out and treat yourself to Hip Hop Speaks to Children; A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat.

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