What is a Poem?

It’s NaPoWriMo, I explained,

National Poetry Writing Month

The challenge is to write a poem

Each day throughout April

We’re currently accepting poetry

Submissions for our school blog

Then transitioned right to comparing fractions

As the numerator increases…

As the denominator increases…

To a sea of incredulous and apathetic faces

Instantly the mood transitioned, murky to bright,

It gave me pause

That poetry would be met with distaste

By a class un-phased even by fractions

Mid explanation I trailed off

Sliced my gaze ’round the room

and queried

What is a poem?


Does it have to rhyme?

A chorus of yes’s echoed back to me

Ah, a teaching moment

Not always. In fact that can feel outdated.

In modern poetry, imagery is considered

more important than rhyme. What else?

Form? volunteered one brave student

Emotion? wondered another

One hard faced teen in the back row

Mumbled, indistinct, I hate that shit

I spun on him, eyes sparking,

honing in on his earbuds

ever present, dangling from one ear,

throughout every lecture,

What do you think you’re listening to?

You stumble in here singing poetry

Every morning

Another combative voice from the back row

Rose sharp as knives in defense of his boy

You kidding, Miss?

Music’s better than poetry

That shit rhymes.

That shit tells a story!

The pitch of my voice rose, mirror of my fervor

excitement rolled off me in palpable waves,

crashing over my students

as it generally only does

when comparing simplifying to solving,

standard measurement to metric,

applied mathematics to pure,

Say that again! What did you say?

Baffled, he did not reply,

Drop the cussing and say that again, sir…

Eyebrows climbed steeply up his face

and, yes!, he realized,

all cocky defiance suddenly lost,

replaced by wonder

Poetry tells a story?


Photo Credit: last book i’ve read by rana ossama on Flickr; used under Creative Commons License.











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