Thursday, January 18, 2018

Poetry Friday: Finding Poems for my Students

I was thinking about this poem this week; I reviewed the book it appears in, E-Mails from Scheherazad, here.  I highly recommend this book for its wonderful poems by Mohja Kahf on being an Arab American.  This poem is just about being a teacher, and I relate to it so completely.  Maybe some of my teacher friends will, too.

Finding Poems for my Students
Mohja Kahf

O my students,
I scour the world of words
to bring you poems like the rocks
my girls dig up in riverbanks
and come running to show me
because the notches in them
say something true, something
that an ancient Wisdom
wanted us to see.

I run to you, pockets full of poems.
I select: This poem will help you pass a test.
Here is one that is no help at all,
but is beautiful; take it, take it.

O my scroungers after merely passing grades,
I bring you poems I have hiked high
and far to find, knowing
they will mostly end up like the rocks
my daughters find, tossed in drawers
with old batteries, mislaid keys,
scraps bearing the addresses
of people whose names
you no longer recognize or need.

Your current glazed-eye indifference
doesn't bother me.  One day,
when you are either cleaning house
or moving (and sooner or later
everyone must do one or the other),
you will shake the drawer and the poem
will fall out.  And may the poem be for you
the one phone number in the universe
you were looking for, and may it be
for you the mislaid key
to your greatest need.
On that day,
you will read.

How thankful I am for the poems (and other writing) my teachers (and others) have found for me, and shared with me, all through my life.  How many times they have been the mislaid keys to my greatest need!

Today's roundup is here.


Unknown said...

The passion of my teachers for the written word was one of the first validations of the way I felt. That what was inside, the ideas and feelings churning there, were best ordered, scented and caught in poem-jars like fireflies. If it weren't for my teachers finding just the right words at the right time, I might be depressed, which for me is the feeling of being voiceless and unappreciated. As if I am a rock in a drawer.

So thank you to all teachers.

Linda B said...

I still remember those teachers who gave me poems, Ruth, and I spent lots of time giving poems to my students. This is so, so wonderful. I will look for the book. Thank you for this. (I save so many poems that you share!)

Diane Mayr said...

that an ancient Wisdom
wanted us to see.

I love this line. The connections are strong. Thanks for sharing "Finding Poems for My Students."

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wow - beautiful, poignant, raw and real and lovely. Thanks, Ruth!

Jane @ said...

This gave me goosebumps. Oh my goodness. Just beautiful.

Liz Steinglass said...

I absolutely love this. I know exactly who to share it with right this second, and I think I will need the book.

Kay said...

Oh yes, I can so relate--whether looking for the right poem or the right book for my students. I still search for the right poetry to share with my daughter, and how many times has the right poem come to me from someone? Then indeed it is like finding the mislaid key (and we won't go into how many times a day I have to search for mislaid keys).

jama said...

Wonderful poem, Ruth! So inspiring :).

Michelle Kogan said...

I would be taking by any book title containing Scheherazad in it, thanks for sharing this deep and moving poem Ruth!

Molly Hogan said...

I'm giving thanks for the two-hour delay that allowed me to come back to PF to visit some links I'd missed. I'm so glad I visited yours. This poem is fabulous and one I will print out and keep in my notebook and read again and again. There are so many lines I love but this is one of my favorites: "Here is one that is no help at all,
but is beautiful; take it, take it."