Thursday, June 08, 2006


Among my sweet gifts and notes from students and parents to celebrate the end of the school year, an unusual treasure. No, not a desk item with an apple, not an "A+ Teacher" mug, not even the coveted gift certificate . . .

. . . a book of poems.

The student of mine is second cousin to the poet June Beisch. The book is titled fatherless woman and is the winner of the Cape Cod Literary Press Poetry Award. It is a treasure. I read through most of it and really enjoyed it, especially this poem about teaching poetry:

Note written to the parents of a middle school child
June Beisch

I'm writing to say that your child seems to be
adept at writing poetry
This is a rare gift and should be nurtured.
Turn off the radio and television.
Play Beethoven in the morning and Mozart at
dusk, before bed.
Resist speaking to him in the tone
of busy common sense
and give him a place where he can be alone.
Let him stay outside in the summer grass
for one whole night alone
Let him watch the moon
rise and the sun
set, let him stay in bed until noon.
Do not speak of obligations or of
things that must be done.

The students in this school are all
starving for beauty and for silence.
You see it in their eyes.
Bent over beneath their heavy backpacks, they are
already burdened
but when they read their poems aloud, it is like
the voice of God speaking.

They long for the wind-in-the-chimney sounds of poetry
and they too, like Odysseus, want to eat the cattle of the sun.
Everything around them is fast becoming elevator music, so
let them believe that they are going to the moon.


Blogger burning moon said...

I kind of disagree with this poem. It assumes that worthwhile poetry can only come from high art influences like Beethoven and Mozart and that poets should be treated like rare china ornaments or something.
I believe that poets should get out into the world and see and experience as much as they can, learn about as many different things as they can. I think this will enrich their poetry and give it texture.
I think poetry, like all literature, should reflect the world it springs from.

I think I have a lot of opinions, lol

8:40 AM, June 10, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Hi Moon,
I agree with the part of the poem that says that an inclination toward poetry should be nurtured, and this may include shutting off the tv. But I agree with you that this does not mean feeding a child "high art." In our family, it means taking walks, looking closely with out "poetry eyes," and writing together.

12:21 PM, June 10, 2006  
Blogger Michael Parker said...

I very much enjoyed this post, J.B. What a wonderful gift to get. I too disagree that you need to listen to classical music in the morning and night. But are poets ever literal? She might just be making the point of surrounding ourselves with art. Maybe art begets art, so to speak.

12:46 AM, June 14, 2006  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Good point Michael!

1:33 PM, June 18, 2006  

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