Friday, October 26, 2012

Declaration of Interdependence

Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year
by Janet Wong
cover illustration by Julie Paschkis, 2012

With just a little over a week to go until election day 2012 (Tuesday, November 6, in case you missed the memo), we might be starting to feel a bit like the speaker in Robert Frost's poem, "After Apple Picking:"

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.

As annoying and pervasive as the campaigning might seem, let's never forget that voting is one of the most important acts of American citizenship. Running for office is the other. This is OUR country. Let's do our best to get it right, whether we're the ones in charge, or the ones in charge of "hiring" the leaders.

Let's take the pledge that is the lead poem in Janet Wong's DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE:


I pledge acceptance
of the views
so different,
that make us America

To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn

One people
sharing the earth
for liberty
and justice
for all.

There are twenty poems in Janet's gem of a book. Twenty kid-friendly ways to think about and talk about democracy, elections, voting and citizenship. Rather than tuning out the divisiveness of the elections in this last week before the big day, why not engage students in conversations about the ways we need to work together for our country, and ultimately for our world?

Visit The Declaration of Interdependence blog for more poems and thought-provoking writing prompts.

And for today's Poetry Friday roundup, visit Linda, at TeacherDance.


  1. I hear what you're saying. I'm tired of this election, too.

    And I keep hearing from the telephone
    That ringing sound
    Of load on load of robo-calls coming in.

    And you're in Ohio, so you're getting 100 times more ads and phone calls and junk mail. Hang in there--we're on the home stretch! (and THANK YOU for this post!)

  2. Very timely, Mary Lee! I like the civility of Janet's poem. We can use all the civility we can get. I am looking forward to casting my vote. And to the campaign season being over!!

  3. I really love that first stanza.

  4. Amen. I wish we could vote early in New Jersey, but I think I just need to stop watching the news and worrying about the polls and just do my bit on November 6th.

  5. We're even getting spillage from your campaign in Canada (our pundits LOVE an election, no matter where it is! Plus we have CNN & Fox News).

    Janet's poem is terrific. It applies to any country where the responsibility of voting brings out the variety of folks who thinks it's their duty to tell us how to think. I love Tabatha's description of Janet's voice as one of "civility."

    I also wanted to tell you, Mary, what a frisson of delight I felt when I opened up Your Daily Poem for October 23rd (yesterday...I sometimes read these late) and saw it was your "Wild Atrocity." Congratulations on a fun poem published in a wonderful place.


  6. I've just added a new post that requires "remarkable vision" at Please take a look (and help solve the mystery)!

  7. Three cheers for Janet and this great collection. (And that comment about a mysterious post sounds enticing....)

    My 20-year-old college student daughter (home for the weekend) and I went to our county's early voting location this afternoon. Her first presidential election! Woo-hoo! She proudly put the sticker on her tee shirt. Thanks for reminding us of what a precious right this is, Mary Lee (and Janet).

  8. I've been avidly watching the debates on TV and on the internet (at least the few ones that I am able to catch) - I can imagine what it must be like for you there. Very timely post indeed.

  9. I've been the lucky one because I won this wonderful book weeks ago & have shared it & shared it. It has numerous ways to prompt good discussions, plus is such a great mentor text for writing about something from research and/or experience. Thanks Mary Lee.

  10. Mary Lee--

    Awesome, awesome, timely post! As we were VOTING for which pumpkin book we would read first, and then revoting because not everyone voted and it is a PRIVILEGE and a RESPONSIBILITY, a DUTY and a DELIGHT to have your choice and your voice count in this great American democracy, I forgot to remember Janet's book. (One of the reasons I love kindergarten is that it's easy to have faith in ideals.)

    My copy is packed somewhere still, but you have provided me with Nov. 2's Poetry Friday poem for kindergarten. After 41 days of school they are familiar enough with the "real" pledge to take some of this in, I think.

  11. Hi, Mary Lee. We have this book. It's perfect to share with kids who are curious about the election (and maybe even more perfect to share with kids whose curiosity about the election could use a goosing.)


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