Tag Archives: Poetry2017

Poetry and English Education

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we will be posting poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “To the Loud Mouth in Room 114: An Elegy” by Jeff Spanke comes from English Education:

To the Loud Mouth in Room 114: An Elegy
I see you standing on the six inch stage up front,
wrinkled Oxford sleeves rolled to the elbow,
matching shoes and belt, a power clashing tie,
all fittingly worn—
the student-centered sage waiting to change the ways
they embrace the world:
your fresh clay to mold into busts
of justice and peace and hope and yourself,
the revival of a spirit that comfort ignores.
They close the door and turn forward to feast
upon the riches you’ve sworn to provide.
Worms to the birds, all infant and chaste.
You have arrived. You will succeed. You are above
the stigma and crap that cripple your colleagues
from those classes you took before you Became.
You are a teacher, both identity and function.
You’ve earned this moment, this space.
You swear you’ll never hurt them.
I want to go up to that Me and slap his face,
Shut Up, I’d plead—you won’t last five years.
You’re going to lose here, curse the Leaders,
damn the System, and spread blame
like pneumonia.
You’ll never own your fault, in whole, though,
and you’ll hurt them when you leave.
You were great today; they needed tomorrow.
Don’t show that movie, don’t send that email.
Answer that parent and do your job.
Grade what you assign, and don’t resign
without a humble fight.
Go to the meetings and sleep
with eyes open and engaged.
Pass out their stupid tests; then teach
democracy, metaphors, commas, and Wow.
Shutting your mouth can’t silence you.
They give you braces if you’re not white and straight,
but you don’t need teeth to smile.
There’ll always be tests.
Don’t resist accountability.
You have a house and a family,
a name to protect and a plate
they’ll take off your door and throw in the trash
with the rest of the shit they find in lockers
when school’s over.
You’ll scare your baby when you cry,
And the loss of sleep will grease your hair and
make your breath reek of mourning.
Your wife will count quarters, keep coupons.
She’ll work longer hours and start searching
for cheaper daycares.
You’ll lie on Thanksgiving and die inside
when Dad says he’s proud.
Just Stop, I’d tell the Loud Mouth Me.
You don’t have to lose.
They need you close and can’t afford the cost
of your textbook excuses.
The mine may be toxic,
but you’re more than a canary.
Teach for the students, the kids in their seats:
Not their parents, your principal, the Super,
or anyone else.
Don’t let them beat you.
Find a wind farm, a dam, or some other source
of power—Or don’t.
Change some lives, fight the fight,
the school will blink, and you’ll be gone.
You’ll be me.
An ornithologist, grounded.

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Poetry and College English

During National Poetry Month, we posted poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “A Professor Attends a Poetry Reading” by James E. Robinson comes from College English and wraps up our celebration:

A Professor Attends a Poetry Reading
I sat up front to avoid
the backs of heads
It is important to fix attention
on the eyes
And gesture
and hear the voice take flight
A reading is a prosopopoeia
an imitation of the act
that bent the being of the poet
into the poem
in the first place

Earlier that day I was glad enough
To have an audience
Go one way
And me another
Leaving the paper lecture
Afloat in the afternoon
But now I would take hold
In the night drawn rearrangement
And let the poet fix me with his meaning
As he pleased
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a poet being a paper poet
Building a paper house
It went up in smoke
I don’t think that was in the poem
Rather it was something that crossed my mind
But then maybe the poet meant it to

I thought perhaps I should have sat in back
To see what others do
When listening
What did alabaster girls and boys
I build in classrooms
Hear there
In the air
Where the poem was hanging
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a fountain and a statue
And water pouring over thighs
And down the drain
I don’t think that was in the poem
But it crossed my mind
But then maybe he meant it to

The poet wore a dark grey suit
And a dark blue shirt and tie
The face was cut from something hard
And the voice was round and clear
And the poem was solid sound
Between us all
And still I wondered what he was to me
And the others
Or I or they to him
Who is audit of which fleeting presence
Which life is rounded by which sleep
Which poem should I take hold of
As I was meant to do

The words came from the dark clothes
Vaguely priestly
And the hard face
Vaguely smiling
Like ballet steps and patterns
Which I chased across the stage
And round the room
The poem went on
And I missed pretty much the whole thing
It was about a boy bewitched by a balloonist
And an irritated father with a broken pipe
Pulling the boy away
Into thin air
Or was it the balloonist who disappeared
Whatever it was that crossed my mind
Was gone before I could be quite sure
I caught something of what he meant me to

When it was over
All the alabaster girls and boys
Gathered round to shake the hard hand
Of the Ballet Priest and Paper Poet
And I wanted to say something too
Because I had had a good time
But as the poem went on
In the room
And in the scattering crowd
And in the air outside
Having never said hello
Having failed to say goodbye
Having missed pretty much the whole thing
I just went away
As I think I was meant to do

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Poetry and College Composition and Communication

During National Poetry Month, we will be posting poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “Syllabus” by Michael True comes from College Composition and Communication:

Syllabus
You will teach me, first, my students,
the character of my indifference,
and the dark confusion of being young;
I will teach you, then, my students,
the hope that lies beneath the surface,
a love inherent in the nature of things.
Follow the course of it to the end of knowing;
gather the thread of it line by line.

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Poetry and Research in the Teaching of English

During National Poetry Month, we will be posting poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “Tango” by Clara, a student working with Angela Rounsaville comes from Research in the Teaching of English:

tango

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Poetry and Teaching English in the Two-Year College

During National Poetry Month, we will be posting poems that originally ran in one of the ten journals published by NCTE. This poem “OF ESSAYS AND EIGHT BALL” by Rick Kempa comes from Teaching English in the Two-Year College:

OF ESSAYS AND EIGHT BALL

She chalks her cue and swaggers towards me.
“Look hard,” she says. “Do you remember me?”
“Yeah, sure, you were in my class, when was it,
eight, ten years ago?” “Nineteen ninety nine.”
“Forgive me,” I say, “You’ll have to help me
with your name.”

Leona, of course! How good
it must feel to kick my butt, killing me slowly
the way I did you when I kept your essays too long,
trying to justify a C-minus, or groping for words
to dull the anvil blow of a D. (Funny how,
when all else fades, a grade persists like
a bad tattoo.)

She hunkers down, nails a combo,
takes a swig, and, grinning, sidles up to me.
“So what did you think of my last paper?”
“Well, I, uh . . . ” “Wasn’t that a kick-ass title page?”
Ah yes, now I remember, how the words arced
in 3-D script above a perfectly-centered
red syringe.

“I am telling you, that was the
best damn title page I have ever seen and
believe me I’ve seen a lot,” I say, and we
touch bottles in honor of the sentence fragment
and the scratch shot, the cue ball that soars into
a knot of drunks and the prose that falls flat,
the eight ball that threads the needle,
kisses the cushion, and topples safely home,
and title pages that stand the test of time.

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