Author Archives: Faith Schmidt

Questions and Quotations from van Sickle


“This comment suggests that verse novels that are not what the dictionary defines as poetic are less worthy, which is a limited perspective.”

Cutting oneself off from experiencing all forms of literature simply because it does not fit the text-book definition of what it is typically closes out a lot of experiences for a reader.  Poetry can come in many forms and the intent of the writer matters when looking at these forms. Reading these verse novels as though they were traditional poetry takes away the edge and intent an author originally gave it. To say that these verse novels are lesser than standard novels or standard poetry is to lose a whole group of young people who see what authors are feeling and relating to them. 

“Billie Jo and her father are suffocating under the weight of all the things they do not say to each other, just as their wheat is suffocating under heavy dunes of dust:” 

The language describing the way the landscape is a metaphor for feelings gone unresolved is also flowery and poetic. A great point is made here as van Sickle tells the audience how poetic elements such as a metaphor make these verse novels poetic and poems despite being told that they shouldn’t be held to that caliber. 

“Is about the accessibility of poetry, and its importance in the lives of young people.” 

Poetry doesn’t have to be good or sound fantastic for it to be something worth reading. Young people are typically introduced to poetry through their teachers. If they continue to read poetry they have the opportunity to express themselves through poems or free verse. They doesn’t have to be good, just an idea, thought or expression of self to display in a poetic way.


  1. Why is it that verse novels seems to do better with younger generations than older?
  2. Which of the voices discussed in the article best represents the type of verse novel The Poet X is?
  3. How do we distinguish poetry from regular written word?/When do novels become verse novels?

Blogging Assignment 2: The Hate U Give

Throughout the novel, Angie Thomas uses the phrase THUG LIFE from Tupac. THUG LIFE in his eyes means, “The Hate U Give Little Infants F**** Everybody.” This theme is brought up multiple time throughout the novel, the first being when Khalil is listening to Tupac within the first few chapters. Starr later explains to her dad that she doesn’t think it’s just about the youth, but the oppressed. I felt that to continue with this theme that Tupac inspired I would use a song from his first group, Thug Life. The song is “Cradle to the Grave.”

Within this song, Thug Life raps about how it is instilled from the cradle that the only way to make a living is joining in on “thug life”. In Mopreme’s verse it is most prevalent that a lot of young people don’t have a lot of options and feel as though they have no choice but to turn to thug life. In Big Skye’s verse, he asks “One in the chamber, for the anger that I build inside/For the mothers that cried, for my homies that died/The beginnin’ is an endin’, am I just a slave?” Asking if there is any chance at all to be out doing something different from what he is. Is he a slave to the system that keeps him down?

When people are given no options and are being fueled by what is pumped into their communities, they turn to what they know around them. Khalil was never a King Lord, he turned them down and only sold to help pay back for his mother’s addiction. In chapter 10 when Maverick and Starr have the conversation on T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E., he asks her to think about what it means, how things happen and why they happen. Specifically from where Starr says “‘Khalil said it’s about what society feeds us as youth and how it comes back and bites us later,’ I say. ‘I think it’s about more than youth though. I think it’s about us, period.'” to when Starr says “‘I hear you, but Khalil didn’t have to sell drugs,’ I say. ‘You stopped doing it.'” This passage speaks on Tupac’s vision and understanding of T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. and even goes deeper into what the oppressed really experience. Connecting it to “Cradle to the Grave” gives another views from voices who really understood it and had to go through it.

Link to song:


From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto
From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy

June 16th, 1971
Mama gave birth to a hell-raisin’ heavenly son
See, the doctor tried to smack me, but I smacked him back
My first words was, “Thug for life!” and “Papa, pass the MAC!”
I’m bustin’ on these mother f*ckers ballin’
Listen, you can hear my mini fourteen callin’
From out the window of my drop top
I got my Glock cocked, bustin’ at n*ggas; when will it stop?
Now, tell me, are you scared of the dark?
Can’t close my eyes, I see visions
And even with this thug livin’, will I escape prison?
Penitentiary chances was an all day thang
The only way to advance; and if you slang
Then you’d better have your Nikes on, ’cause when we fight, it’s in the middle of the night with no lights on
Hey! There must be a God, ’cause I feel lucky
Paranoid, out my mind, ’cause motherf*ckers tryin’ to rush me
Am I goin’ to jail? Look at me bailin’
Comin’ out the court house, all about my mail and bank
Never die, I’ll be a hustler, motherf*ckers
Makin’ thugs out you suckers, from the cradle to the grave

From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto

From the cradle to the grave, since a little bitty child
I’ve been known to get ill and kinda buck wild
Pop pop! Just like the part that’s in my walk with street talk
I’m runnin’ up the block in the dark where lead spark
Surveillance on a n*gga every day
Waitin on my daddy just to take his a** away
Now Mama always workin’, tryin’ to make ends meet
So now a young n*gga’s being raised by the streets
And then the only other one that ever showed me love
Was my dope fiend uncle, strung out on drugs
A straight thug, just me, my mama out here on our own
So I got two gats, one black and one of chrome
Now, I don’t wanna hurt nobody, but I must defend mine
It’s all the f*ck I got, so stop and walk a thin line
Young n*ggas be brave
And keep on thuggin’ from the cradle to the grave

From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto

[Rated R:]
From the cradle to the grave, I’m glad to say I made it this far
Many G’s died, hogs
And all they got was they name hit up on a wall
It’s sad thinkin’ about the times, life goes on
I’m steady lost in this land, that’s the war zone
I gots no home, don’t have no friends neither
It’s just me by my lonely, so I married my Nina
I keeps her wherever I go, I love my ho*
Never leave home without my sugar, I’ma have to plug a n*gga
Mama told me not to trust no punks
And kick his a** if he lay a hand on me
Since then I been knowin’
Sometimes I think my own self stupid
‘Cause I stay shootin’ at marks
Get twisted up in police reports
Since the cradle, I’ve been ungrateful
My first toy was a gun
I got sprung and learned to love weapons
But now I’m through with money
And through with street fame
Somebody peeled my cap, and put me in my grave

From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto

March 18th, a rainy day my mama gave birth
To a baby boy trapped in Hell on Earth
From day one it wasn’t fun, I never had a crumb
Daddy worked two jobs and Mama won’t stop drinkin’ rum
I tried to cope, loc, but my family’s broke
And my pocket’s short, so now I got ta slang dope
In the game filled with pain, it’s a f*ckin’ shame
The white man got a motherf*cker slangin’ ‘caine
So now it’s on from dusk to dawn, I’m gettin’ my serve on
Always in the spot with my Glock, slingin’ rocks at the Rox
The shit don’t stop, I’m steady dodgin’ cops
I never flip-flop, hear my Glock cock, thug ’til I drop
And if I hit the pen, I gotta do my time
Sittin’ on my bunk, reminiscin’ ’bout the good times
It’s f*cked up a n*gga gotta grow up doin’ dirt
But from the cradle to the grave I’ma put in work

From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto

[Big Syke:]
Time’s movin’ fast; will I last another day?
So I pray and I lay with my AK
Did I sell my soul as a young kid? All the things I did
Wishin’ someone held me, but they never did
I can’t take it; will I make it to my older age
Before I’m shot up or locked up in a f*ckin’ cage?
Lord, help me, guide me, save me!
‘Cause that’s the way that Daddy raised me: crazy
Do or die, n*gga, pull the trigger, don’t give a f*ck
You’d rather be in jail than get yo’ a** bucked
Nobody cares, it’s me against the world
Keepin’ murder on my mind and my TEC-9
I got nothin’ to lose, payin’ dues, n*gga, you wanna die?
I get high and then my mission is a walk-by
You’d better jet when I hit your set, ’cause I’m comin’
Start runnin’, yellin’ “evil mind” as I’m gunnin’
One in the chamber, for the anger that I build inside
For the mothers that cried, for my homies that died
The beginnin’ is an endin’, am I just a slave?
So I got to be brave, from the cradle to the grave

From the cradle to the grave
Life ain’t never been easy
Livin’ in the ghetto

I also wanted to add the clip of Tupac explaining T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.