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
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.