Tuesday, April 2, 2024

April is National Poetry Month.

We read poems today.
Short ones. In my literature &
composition class. Students, stuck inside on a spring Tuesday,
a day a little mud-luscious, 
listened to Langston Hughes, ee cummings,
Dorothy Parker. Margaret Atwood. Marge Piercy. 

Well. At least some of them listened. Some of the we
focused instead on their phones. Look,
I'm not of the age of the "shakes fist at sky/ this blasted generation" type.
I'm good with the social media. And the dank memes & the culture wars.
But really. These are some good poems. Razzle AND dazzle. 

We
are supposed to be studying tone. As in "don't use that tone with me"
teens.

And also speaker. And voice. We
definitely read some Gwendolyn Brooks. And I told them how, when I
first learned that poem, in high school, I had never heard a real poet read a real poem. 

Not really. How would you even do that in 1987?

Can you imagine? 

And the revelation when I finally did hear Brooks emphasize that 

WE
at the end of every line. Jesus. What a voice. Singing sin and gin.

But, even then
I did get to hear music.
MTV, radio.
Oh I loved me a good pop song. Lived for it, really.
Cassette tapes carefully curated,
pause pressed to stop the DJ from talking over the song. (Why did they
do that? Anyway?) We
would scramble, and the DJ would talk anyway. 

I remember calling in, once, to dedicate "Keep on Loving You" by REO Speedwagon
to a boy with curly dirty-blonde hair. "To Scott from Kim." The thrill
when I heard the DJ read it out in a long list of

to xxxx

from xxxx's

(I don't even know
if he heard it.) I also did (not)
          keep on loving him. We
          were doomed from the start,
          I guess. 

So anyway. Back (as it always goes) to the students. 

The room is always a bit dim because the
PowerPoint you need to keep
(this generationanygenerationme) engaged
doesn't really show up in full light
using the ancient projector. Dim.  
And they're probably a little sleepy. 
And April is still (as far as I can tell)
the cruelest month. 

And they smiled when appropriate and eddieandbill and bettyandisbel 
are still always as charming as they've always been (which
if you ask Dorothy Parker was never). They
seemed sad at Piercy's Barbie Doll. 

And I ran out of lines of poetry to share. And I let them go early. 
How's that for a tone? 

KAW 4/2/24