An archive of News, Events, Teacher's Corner blog posts, and In The News notes that are tagged with the subject of "poetry"

Ibtisam Barakat Profiled in the Chestnut Hill Local

Ibtisam Barakat in Chestnut Hill Local

Ibtisam Barakat in Chestnut Hill Local

On July 22 and 23, Al-Bustan was pleased to host noted author Ibtisam Barakat to conduct poetry workshops with our campers. See her interview with Len Lear of the Chestnut Hill Local. . .

Working Tirelessly to heal social injustice Palestinian Author brings tales of war to Hill

by Len Lear, Chestnut Hill Local
Published: July 30, 2009

[...]“Barakat, who spent two days with students at Springside last week, is on a peripatetic mission of peace and justice. Born in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem, she spent most of her formative years in Ramallah, Palestine (generally referred to in news stories as the West Bank). After earning a degree in English literature from Birzeit University on the West Bank, she came to the U.S. in 1986 for an internship with The Nation magazine. She later earned two M.A. degrees — in journalism and in human development and family studies – at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Just before coming to Springside, Barakat had attended a world poetry conference in Caracas, Venezuela, as the Palestinian representative. Prior to that, she was in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman for one month as “author in residence” working with middle school and high school students. Her memoir, Tasting the Sky; a Palestinian Childhood, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, was named by Booklist as one of the top 10 biographies for youth and in 2008 won the International Reading Association’s Best Non-Fiction Book Award for Children and Young Adults.”

Click here to read the full article.

July 23: Camp Performance & Reading by author Ibtisam Barakat

Performance by Al-Bustan Campers

Reading by Author Ibtisam Barakat
Springside School – Lower School Auditorium
Chestnut Hill, 8000 Cherokee Street, Phila, PA 19118

Come for an evening of dance, drama, poetry, and video by participants at Al-Bustan Camp, followed with a reading by noted poet/author Ibtisam Barakat from her memoir Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. Ms. Barakat is visiting artist at Al-Bustan Camp, where she will conduct poetry writing workshops with children and teens.

May 21: Arab Arts and Heritage Celebration

Celebration in May 2008

Celebration in May 2008

Please Join Us For the Second Annual
Arab Arts and Heritage Celebration

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Atrium, School District of Philadelphia

440 N. Broad Street
metered street parking available, some parking lots nearby

Performances 11:15 am – 12:15 pm
Activities/Demonstrations 12:30-1:15 pm
Arabic coffee and tea will be served

Join Al-Bustan’s staff of fantastic teaching artists as we celebrate the inspiration they have given to students and teachers through the Arab Arts and Heritage program in partnership with the School District of Philadelphia.

The poetry of Arab-American author Naomi Shihab Nye was our theme this year and served as a framework for students to explore their lives and heritage and express themselves through the arts.  The celebration on May 21st is a culminating showcase of Al-Bustan’s Arab arts programming in various Philadelphia public schools this academic year.

The event will showcase the hard work, creativity, and enthusiasm of students as they present a performance of music, dance, art, and poetry from the following schools:

•    John Moffet Elementary School
•    Feltonville School of Arts and Sciences
•    Penn Alexander School
•    Motivation High School
•    Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds
•    Philadelphia Military Academy at Elverson
•    Benjamin Franklin High School

We hope that you will attend to see the beautiful work of these young people and to show your support for Al-Bustan’s partnership with the School District to bring quality Arab arts education for Philadelphia students!

For more info, call 267-809-3668 or email

March 2009 News

What a month! Our February was brightened by a visit from the wonderful Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye, we launched our Spring Percussion Workshops, and are planning for a new art workshop series with Philadelphia artist Tremain Smith.

I’m pleased to have joined the Al-Bustan team in January as Program Assistant through AmeriCorp’s Arab-American Resource Corps.

We  are sad to say good-bye to Nehad Khader who has been an integral part of Al-Bustan over the past a year and a half as Education Program Coordinator and all-star teacher.  She will continue the semester teaching Poetry after-school at Moffet School.  We thank her for all that she has done to help Al-Bustan grow, and wish her the best as she pursues her own projects.

Chloe Tucker
Program Assistant

A Wonderful Visit from Naomi Shihab Nye

February 2009


Nye assumes her position in the midst of her fans

On the morning of February 13th, I rushed through the auditorium doors of Moffet School, waved quickly to my students and started preparing for the kids’ presentation to the beloved poet. After catching my breath and settling in, I started to look for her. Could Naomi be back stage waiting for the program to begin to assume her position up there? My eyes darted to the stage, and I realized that there was no backstage! And out of the corner of my eyes I spotted a big person in the crowd of 4th and 5th grade students. Naomi Shihab Nye had assumed her position: right in the midst of her fans.

After the warm welcome by Ms. Fredericks, Moffet’s wonderful 5th grade English teacher, the students began their program as a gift of appreciation to Naomi. The first group of fifth graders performed an original group poem, set to background percussion music, and their 5th and 4th grade peers followed, performing individually. The students wove tapestries of their lives, their foods, their grandmothers. Inspired by Naomi’s work they taught us about the simple things that matter most. And the after-school poetry students closed the presentation, and welcomed Naomi on stage with a dramatic interpretation of her poem “Red Brocade.”

When Naomi made her way to the stage, she waved around a little notebook and told the kids that “it is the only tool for being good writers”—which she soon discovered that they already are.

The highlight of the presentation, for students, teachers, and Al-Bustan staff alike, was the song that Naomi offered the students. Picking a guitar from the school’s collection, she sang “Lullaby Raft,” a song so powerful that she has published a book with the song’s words illustrated by Vivienne Flesher. Ms. Ney left a very deep impression on the kids, and for days afterwards, they reminisced about the lullaby that Naomi sang.

- Nehad Khader, Teacher/Education Program Coordinator

Inspired by the creativity of my students

February  2009

poem-nazThis school year I taught at two public schools in Philadelphia: John Moffet Elementary and Feltonville Intermediate. At the after-school program at Moffet, the students have been writing their own poetry by exploring the works of Naomi Shihab Nye. We’ve been using her poetry to understand poetic convention and structure, and to simply enjoy it. Her poems have been sources of creative activity for us, like making scenes and thinking of images to help us create our own poems.

Ms. Nye visited Moffet on February 13. She spoke to the students at an assembly after they presented their poetry to her. Then she led a writing workshop in which the students wrote several group poems. We were all so grateful for her generous and warm spirit.

At Feltonville I taught an in-school Arabic language and culture class for fourth-graders. My students were extremely enthusiastic about engaging with the language and culture of the Arab World. We played a variety of games to remember our lessons. The lessons covered geography, song, dance, and poetry. At the end of the 10 classes, the students were having basic conversations in Arabic, identifying countries, and writing their names.

Every teaching experience is unique—a different set of dynamics comes with every school and every different group of students. The students’ thoughtfulness and creativity teach me something new after every class. As a teacher I am inspired by the creative works of my students and their excitement to perform in front of their peers. My first mission as a teacher is to support the process of developing confidence and strength in the young folks I teach through self-expression.

- Nehad Khader, Teacher