Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: Syllabus

Last week I wrote this National Poetry Month haiku:

Inbox of poems:
April’s blooming gift of words
Transforms a Tuesday

I do love all the poetry that is around this time of year, but I am starting to get a little overstimulated by it all, and to wish that it would be a little more spread out over the months.  Nancie Atwell says somewhere that reading poems is like eating chocolates, and it's possible to overdo.  There are so many great projects going on right now, and I have an inbox full of poems, and I already consume quite a bit of poetry at normal times.  Poetry friends, I wish I had the time and energy to read all the amazing things you're doing.

On Sunday it will be my day to add to the Progressive Poem, so of course I have been following that closely.  Today's line is here.

I've also been doing daily posts, mostly linking to great poems from my archives, but occasionally sharing a new find.  

Here's a poem I received in my inbox before National Poetry Month even started.  I loved the creepiness of this poem, and I was intrigued by the syllabus format:

Syllabus  for   the   Dark    Ahead

by Jehanne Dubrow

Throughout this course,
we’ll study the American
landscape of our yard, coiled line


of the garden hose,
muddy furrows in the grass
awaiting our analysis,

what’s called close reading
of the ground.

 (You can read the rest at the link above.)

I decided to imitate this (not the creepiness, but the format), and below is a first draft of my poem.

Syllabus for Eighth Grade

Throughout this course,
we’ll explore the art of being thirteen
going on fourteen.

We’ll practice sitting on a chair
without falling on the floor,
posting in the class group chat
without hurting anyone’s feelings,
having a crush on a ninth grader
without losing your dignity.

In our year together,
we’ll entertain a range of emotions,
with frustration being a frequent visitor.

We’ll experience rejection,
some days, all before lunch.

There are tissues on the teacher’s desk.

Bathroom humor will be tolerated
on a limited basis.

The teacher will try not to roll her eyes at you
if you try not to roll yours at her.

We’ll read what many others have written
about being alive,
and we’ll write what we think and feel,
or at least some of it.
Some of it we’ll bury on the playground
when nobody’s looking.

Evaluations will be gentle,
since nobody has ever mastered the art of being thirteen
going on fourteen.
Or any other age, really.
We’re all just figuring it out as we go along.

Ready?  Let’s begin.


Today's roundup is here today, at Tabatha's blog, The Opposite of Indifference.


Tabatha said...

Had to immediately save and send this. You really hit the nail on the head! Maybe I will try a "syllabus" poem. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tara Smith said...

I saved this, too, Ruth - a poem to re read and treasure.

Irene Latham said...

Ruth, this poem! I LOVE IT. I am saving and printing. I want to share it whenever I visit 8th graders! And yes, it's rather like a poetry volcano. At some point the spewing must stop, so we can look out over the rivers of lava. Hang in there... the month will soon be over (she says, having yesterday gotten a second wind...). xo

Kay said...

I love this. I taught 8th grade for 14 years and your poem brought back all the memories and joy and frustration of working with those incredible kids, trying to figure out how to be 13 going on 14 (or even 15 going on 16).

jama said...

You've captured it all so beautifully in your poem. Love all the details and you've struck just the right tone. Fabulous!

Linda B said...

I will share your poem, Ruth. Clearly, you know those 8th graders I have loved, too. "Some of it we’ll bury on the playground"-wonderful, as is so much more. Thank you!

Jane @ said...

How beautiful! That transition from childhood to teenage-hood is such a dynamic one, filled with so many powerful emotions, and moments of sheer joy and even more sheer terror and despair! Everything is so heightened, which is why our sensitivity (and patience!) should be, too. :)

Brenda Harsham said...

Yes. I remember these days this way.

Mary Lee said...

Like Linda B., I picked out
"Some of it we’ll bury on the playground
when nobody’s looking"
as a favorite bit. THIS is growing up and leaving our younger selves behind...or so we think...but later we find out that everything is still there and we are every age we've ever been (like the beginning of Sandra Cisneros' "Eleven").

Ramona said...

Love your syllabus poem! Any 8th grader reading this should feel welcomed and understood. I understand what you're saying about not enough time to get around this month. I clicked on your blog just to see if you might have posted the line for the progressive poem early, but was treated to this post instead.