The poem "Dat Jumbi Woman" is from Jose Patrick Gimenez's book "Virgin Islands Folklore and Other Poems" published in 1933. José Patrick Gimenez (1893-1953) was born in St. Thomas on March 17, 1893. He was a poet and composer. He wrote in English, Spanish and West Indian dialect. He had many popular songs, wrote several books, was a great public speaker, a merchant, and a correspondent for the Puerto Rico Herald. (Source: Profiles of Outstanding Virgin Islands)
In this activity, students will look at a poem as a primary source. They will use reading comprehension skills and familiarity with Virgin Islands dialect to interpret a poem entitled "Dat Jumbi Woman". The class will discuss different forms of storytelling. They will discuss the poem within the themes of individual development and identity.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
Before beginning the activity, the teacher can discuss with the class: What is a primary source? Can a poem be a primary source?
A primary source is an original document or item, it presents firsthand information about the time you are studying. A poem is a primary source. It is the original words of the poet. A written interpretation or discussion of the poem would be a secondary source.
Load the poem onto an interactive smart board. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Analyze the Primary Source
The teacher can help students to read the poem out loud. It is written in Virgin Islands dialect. The poem is by Jose P. Gimenez and is called “Dat Jumbi Woman”.
The class can discuss the poem with the teacher’s help. What is it about? Are there any words that students do not know? What words are in Virgin Islands dialect? What do they mean? Have students heard the word “jumbi” before? Do they know what it means? Have they heard stories about jumbis from their parents or relatives?
The teacher can introduce the concept of storytelling to students.
Background on Storytelling: Before there were written story books, there was storytelling. Storytelling is used to entertain and to pass along a culture’s traditions. The stories may not all be true. They can include poems, legends, special songs, and more. There are storytelling traditions in all cultures. In the US Virgin Islands many traditional stories have their roots in West African stories – like those about the spider Anansi.
Have students form small groups. Have each group spend 5-10 minutes looking up one or two of the following terms: storytelling, fables, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, folklore, and folktales. Assign the word(s) to each group, so that students know which word(s) they are looking up and so that all words are researched and defined. Students will then share what they found out with the whole class and have a discussion on the types of stories.
Does the Virgin Islands jumbi fall into any of the types of stories the students researched? Explain. Can students think of any other characters from stories told in the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, the United States, or other places in the world? Write the answers the students give on the smart board. The teacher can give prompts as needed, such as Cow-foot Woman, Goat-foot Woman, El Chupacabra, Zombi/Zonbi, Soucouyant, Big Foot, Yeti, and Lock Ness Monster. Do students know where these stories originated? The class can research those they are unfamiliar with.
5th Grade, Identity and Language: Ask the class to define: identity. Merriam-Webster defines identity as the set of qualities and beliefs that make one person or group different from others.
Have students write a short essay answering the following question: How is language a reflection of identity? Explain answer in the essay.
A class discussion can follow where students discuss their positions related to language and identity.