martedì 5 aprile 2011

I hear Italy singing

I haven't written anything about the political situation in Italy--that of bunga bunga fame-- and I don't have much excuse for avoiding it. The events of the past months, with Berlusconi at their center, are scandalous, outrageous, and at times incredibly depressing. Rather than get into it now, though, I thought I would share some of my students' (indirect) words about it.

A few weeks ago, I tortured my 5th year kids by making them write (gasp) poetry! We had just read Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," the full-throated song to the joy of hardworking former-colonists, and so I assigned them an Italian version for homework, "I Hear Italy Singing." There was a delightful chorus of groans and moans. I told them to be as playful or sarcastic or patriotic as they wanted to be, and a few of them did a really nice job. Many were very pessimistic, a majority of the poems mentioned corrupt politicians and the mafia. A few stuck to the classics, citing Italian food and beautiful monuments and singing gondoliers. Many brought up football in some way, and playing children. Here are two of my favorites by two students N and A:

"I Hear Italy Singing"
I hear Italy singing, his mediterranean vibes I hear
The vibes of the greengrocer yelling through his loudspeaker,
How red his tomatoes are and how mellow the grape
I hear the jangle of the steel rails, crossed by their streetcars.
The gondolier singing, about Santa Lucia,
The businessman singing, the joy of the contract,
Just signed with the mobster, more joyful than him.
The streetwalker singing, what's on her own menu,
Thinking about the time when Italy's song was her only hope
I hear Italy singing, his melancholic vibes I hear.

"I Hear Italy Singing"
I hear people singing only when the national football team wins
I hear the corruptors and the corrupted singing together
I hear the pope and the priests singing about morality
I hear the politicians singing about nothing while talking too much
I hear the premier singing about the importance of family while paying for sex
I hear the Mafia's criminals singing while they get richer making business with mayors
But then I hear other songs
Those of my friends and my family who don't accept Italy as it is
Those of the honest workers
Those of all the Italians that believe in good before anything else
I hear Italy singing while I'm quiet.

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