Follow by Email

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking A Stand Across a Bridge

It’s funny how once you learn a new word or about a new person, all of a sudden you see or hear that word or person everywhere. I told you last week that the One Book, One Philadelphia Committee chose The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi as its 2010 selection. Little by little I am becoming familiar with Iran and my interest in it is growing. My aunt sent me this link of Iranians, who now live in North America, who demonstrated last week in New York City. They were protesting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations.( I have a hard time pronouncing his name.) He is the President of Iran, but many people feel that he helped to rig the election in his favor. This past summer, Iranians had a chance to vote for a president and their choice was not honored. When they protested that the elections were unfair, they were abused by the military.

Anyway, here is the link to people taking a stand and not just accepting what they know is not right. I admire this!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2010 One Book, One Philadelphia-The Complete Persepolis

Kudos(I love this word) to Mayor Michael Nutter and all those who helped to persuade those who needed persuading to pass a budget that keeps our libraries open. Such an event like last night’s is why I love the Free Library of Philadelphia.
I got to see and listen to one of my favorite writers-Marjane Satrapi. She is an Iranian writer who wrote The Complete Persepolis. I read Persepolis I during the Great Books Program I participated in this past summer.

Marjane Satrapi appeared at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia Wednesday evening to not only talk about her graphic novels and this particular medium of telling stories, but to celebrate her book’s selection as part of the 2010 One Book, One Philadelphia. The Complete Persepolis is a graphic novel and memoir of Marjane Satrapi’s life growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and the war with Iraq, her life in Europe and her return to Iran. It’s a must read. There is also an animated movie of Persepolis which Marjane Satrapi helped to create.

Keep you eyes and ears open to learn of the many events around town sponsored by One Book, One Philadelphia. Its goal is to get the whole city of Philadelphia reading The Complete Persepolis and to learn that the people of Iran are very much like the rest us.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ringing Out Love-Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary

The main reason why my mom likes me to participate in chorus is because I get to learn and love songs that are not played on the radio or listened to by most of my friends. One of those types of songs I learned at Overbrook Elementary with Mrs. James. It was called If I Had a Hammer and I loved the way Peter, Paul and especially Mary sung this song by Peter Seeger.

Mary Travers died yesterday because of health problems. She was amazing not only because she had a great voice, but because she used her voice to challenge injustice. Today, I’m going to teach my little brother how to sing
If I Had a Hammer.

Here is a link to Peter, Paul and Mary singing this song.

Here are the lyrics to help you sing along. Let’s give a sing-out to Mary.

IF I HAD A HAMMER (The Hammer Song)

words and music by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger

If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

If I had a bell
I'd ring it in the morning
I'd ring it in the evening
All over this land
I'd ring out danger
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

f I had a song
I'd sing it in the morning
I'd sing it in the evening
All over this land
I'd sing out danger
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

Well I've got a hammer
And I've got a bell
And I've got a song to sing
All over this land
It's the hammer of justice
It's the bell of freedom
It's the song about love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land

©1958, 1962 (renewed), 1986 (renewed)TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Please Act To Save The Free Library Of Philadelphia

Urgent! Urgent! Urgent! Tonight, I went to the Central Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library for a poetry reading. My mother read this evening along with several other female writers as part of an event in celebration of women writers. The event was great, but one of hosts of the evening, poet Tamara Oakman, told the audience that The Philadelphia Free Library’s Central Branch and all other branches are scheduled to close on October 2, 2009 because of lack of funds. I believe the Pennsylvania State budget has not yet been passed.

Follow this link to learn more about these closings and what you can do to help keep our libraries open. I am also asking my readers to share a story of a special time they had in one of the many branches of the Philadelphia Free Library and I will post them and past them on to our elected officials. Here’s the link. Do your duty!!! Let’s act!!!

Happy Birthday, Constitution!

Happy Birthday, Constitution. On the September 17th is Constitution Day. On this date in 1787, the Constitution was adopted right here in Philadelphia. The National Constitution Center is planning lots of activities to commemorate this event. To learn more go its website:

One of the planned activities is a naturalization ceremony where immigrants from around the world take the Oath of Citizenship to become citizens of the United States. I attended such a ceremony when my Uncle Osman became a citizen. It was an awesome experience for me to witness this.

Now, I’m curious! How many of you could pass the test to become a United States citizen? Here is the link to some sample questions found on the Naturalization Test.
Let me know how you performed.

Teenager: Anne Frank-Up on the Roof

This past Saturday, I was on top of the city, standing on the rooftop of the Parkway House apartment building, 13 stories high. The open space and the breathtaking view of Philadelphia’s nighttime skyline made me feel invincible and that all things were possible for me. I took this seemingly indomitable energy and sat down on a milk crate, alongside other audience members and we watched an actress, Anna Watson, transform into a girl just a year and some months older than me. There was Anne Frank, 15, all teenager, contained in an 8-foot-by-8 foot cube, telling us of her life in hiding from the Nazis.

The contrast between the open space of the rooftop and Anne’s cage-like cube made a physical impression on me; made me appreciate the physical restrictions of Anne’s life in hiding. But the play, Teenager: Anne Frank, presented by the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival and Theatre In Between , made Anne Frank more of person I could identify with as a teenager. As a result of reading The Diary of Anne Frank, Anne was always a heroine to me, someone completely out of my league. But this play, directed by Frank Bruckner, makes Anne a girl who shares the same interests and problems that I have. When we first meet Anne, she is excited about her first kiss with Peter van Pels. She’s excited by love just as she is often angry at her mother for numerous things. Does this sound familiar? This is the success of Teenager: Anne Frank; the play makes Anne so familiar and Anna Watson’s portrayal of Anne makes her someone that you genuinely care about.

I find now that my reaction to Anne’s life and death and the Holocaust, in general, is much stronger because I can see myself in Anne Frank. This play should definitely be seen by young students to not only make them care about Anne, but to help them begin to think of ways to challenge injustice and intolerance.

I would like to thank Richard Watson for giving me the opportunity to review this play.

Show Details
September 15-20, 2009

8pm (all dates)

Runtime: 60 minutes

Price: $15

Location: Parkway House, 2201 Pennsylvania Ave, Philadelphia,PA

For Tickets: call 215-847-7365 or visit the Philly Fringe website

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Teenager: Anne Frank Presented by the 2009 Philly Fringe Festival

Understanding the horror of the Holocaust is difficult for any decent human being, but it is especially hard for children to process this event. I find reading books or seeing films that are from the perspective of young people about their Holocaust experience makes history real and relevant for me. Reading books like The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Devil’s Arithmetic helped me to care about what happened in the past and makes me challenge intolerance now. Of course, the book most of us read as our introduction to the Holocaust was Anne Frank’s Diary. How we all loved Anne and sympathized with her. It was Anne who caused me to start to care about injustice and intolerance.

But Anne was also a teenager. I can’t imagine coming into my own sense of myself under the circumstances Anne did. Thanks to actress Anna Watson and director Frank Bruckner audiences can get a glimpse of Anne Frank, the teenager and not simply Anne Frank, the icon.

As part of the 2009 Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Teenager: Anne Frank will be presented. I will review the play for you in a couple of days. In the meantime, here is more information about the play.

Teenager: Anne Frank (Philly Fringe Festival)
Performed entirely in a PVC cube, on the roof of a 13-story building, this one-woman show explores the awakening sexuality, isolation, and hopes of the teenager who became the iconic Anne Frank. Presented by the German artists, actress Anna Watson and director Frank Br├╝ckner, as part of the 2009 Philly Live Arts & Fringe Festival.

SHOW DETAILS 8:00pm, Sept 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18
Parkway House, 2201 Pennsylvania Ave.
Tickets: $15 general / $10 students Call 215-847-7365 or
go to THEATRE INBETWEEN to learn more
*Painting 'The Face of the Holocaust" by Aaron Douglass
Photo-Anne Frank
Photo- Anna Watson performing in Teenager:Anne Franck

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks, Mr. President !

I just finished watching President Barack Obama’s nationally televised speech to students, which was extremely inspirational for the start of the school year. After listening to President Obama’s message, I am ready to set all my goals higher and work even harder. It is really unfortunate that not all school students could tune into the speech. I can’t understand all the fuss over our President urging young people to stay in school, work hard and aim high. Aren’t these good things to encourage? We all know the reason why some people were against their children and students listening to President Obama. It has more to do with the messenger than the message, but I won’t say more.

Here is a link to the text of the speech President Obama delivered to students nationwide.
Here is a link to a video of the speech.
*Photo of President Obama/AP Photo-Gerald Herbert

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Girls Dream Out Loud

I love my grandparents’ magnolia tree and rose bushes and azalea shrubs. But, I never really examined, on a conscious level, what these creatures of nature look like. For example, how do their leaves differ from one another or how do their scents compare to one another. After being introduced ,by the most amazing teacher, Lillian Dunn, to the writing of Annie Dillard, my observation skills have improved. This is now reflected in my writing.

Some of my writing is more lyrical and magical because of my introduction to the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And my introduction to the writing of Anne Sexton made me appreciate how some writers are ahead of their time. (Thanks, Tamara Oakman.)

As you know, I participated in some amazing programs this summer. The one program that stretched me the most in terms of my writing, my appreciation of other writers and the literary scene of my region is Girls Dream Out Loud. Hosted at Bryn Mawr College, Girls Dream Out Loud is program that aims to empower girls through their participation in creative projects.

I was part of the Blue Tree group which is for girls in 7th to 12 grade. The way this program is designed is kind of like college in that you get to select a major and a minor focus for your studies. You get to choose from a variety of interesting topics. I chose Creative Writing as my major and From the Ground Up, which was a course to help you design a community service project, as my minor.

I did a variety of writing which included memoir, nature and poetry projects. My teacher, Lillian, who worked us hard, has no idea what seeds she has planted. I am more on fire about how to capture the world in words. Not only did students learn about other writers and how to use these writers as models, Lillian took us to all kinds of venues for us to read our work with other established writers. We went to college coffeehouses like Milk Boy and to the Central Library of Philadelphia. These experiences made me and the other girls feel like we were real writers, reading and performing with our peers.

Girls Dream Out Loud is a both a summer residential and day program which runs for two-weeks. It has a program for younger girls as well. I want to thank with all my heart Samantha Razook Murphy , the director of Girls Dream Out Loud, for allowing my dreams to grow. And of course, I am grateful for the incredible friends I made while participating in this program.

For more information about Girls Dream Out Loud, visit its website at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble Auditions

Kimmel Center Education Department welcomes all young musicians, grades 6 – 10, to audition for the Kimmel Center Youth Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, September 26, 2009 from Noon to 3pm in the Kimmel Center’s Merck Arts Education Center.

Those interested in auditioning must register online at or by calling the Education Projects Coordinator at 215-670-2371 by Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Auditions consist of sight reading and improvisation. All materials are supplied. There is no charge to audition or to participate in the ensemble.