The school year starts (incredibly) this week, and I think I am relieved to have written this poem before we begin. It does not absolve me from talking about it with my students or enable easier conversations about our world. But as with most situations, once I have reflected poetically only then can I communicate or dialogue about my feelings on a situation with my mind and heart working together. And true to my process from March when I was writing a poem a day and posting the work on this blog, today’s poem was composed, revised, and formatted this afternoon in the last two hours. I hope it opens something in you, or gives a new angle by which to enter the conflict for yourself. I hope it stands as a poem of witness for the atrocities and peace.
I am in Indianapolis at the Expeditionary Learning Institute for Using Data to Drive Student Achievement. I am thinking about numbers and, I guess, driving them somewhere. So I wanted to play with that through form. The duality and two sides of every story.
So after a twenty minute catnap, we have this column poem. Directions: Read the left side first…then the right side…then read across the whole line as a complete poem with both sides. The first side is called You Can Make. The second is These Count. And the complete work is You Can Make These Count.
To be fair, the art of penmanship (not penpersonship?) is dying because of the digital age. But with tighter national education standards, elementary teachers are finding less and less time to teach things like cursive. Tennessee State Representative Sheila Butt (she could never become a teacher with that name) is fighting to reestablish handwriting as a cornerstone of early education. One of her arguments is that students who do not know how to write script may not be able to read fundamental American texts in their original form. Not a bad idea. But that’s not going to help a lot boys learn how to write that way. Try this: