Tupac Poetry Recommended For Students     

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5/12/2004 5:30:21 PM
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Tupac Poetry Recommended For Students
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Worcester, Mass. is giving a posthumous shout-out to slain rapper Tupac Shakur.

The city's school system has placed Shakur's book of poems on its summer reading list, joining the likes of John Steinbeck and Charles Dickens.

Shakur, gunned down eight years ago in Las Vegas, is best known for his "gangsta" rap lyrics, which critics said glorified of violence, drugs, and misogyny.

But his poetry book, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete," is free of controversy and tells of growing up in poverty and striving to overcome challenges.

"We wanted to include books that kids would want to read," Michael O'Sullivan, a member of the reading list selection committee, told the Telegram and Gazette of Worcester.

Folk-rock singer Jewel also made the list of recommended readings for seventh and eighth graders under the genre "word music" poetry.

Also recommended for seventh and eighth graders are "Call of the Wild," by Jack London, Steinbeck's "The Red Pony," and "A Tale of Two Cities," by Dickens.

School committee members have asked administrators to review Shakur's poetry to make sure there's nothing objectionable.

"The issue is whether it has true literary merit," committee member Brian A. O'Connell said. "A student can select whatever they want to read on their own, but it should pass literary muster if we are going to assign it."

Officials say the poems, written when Shakur was 19, connect with the feelings young people have today.

Before Shakur moved to California and began his rap career, he was a top student at the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Although it's been eight years since Shakur was shot to death, the controversial rapper has remained a marketing force. Several albums were released posthumously, and last year an MTV-produced documentary, "Tupac: Resurrection," was released in theaters. There also is a Shakur-related clothing line.

No arrests have been made in his murder.
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