Yesterday at an elementary school came this question from a fifth grader, “have you ever written a poem about the idiot president?”
He smiled impishly. A few around him proclaimed the Bush to be the greatest president of all time (all time to a nine-year-old is a somewhat limited perspective.) Others laughed madly.
The fact that these elementary school kids even make a connection between poetry and politics is AMAZING given the degree to which all the poetry offered to them is homogenized almost past the point where one can recognize the writing genre. In elementary schools the poetry books are shelved with the joke books.
Today at another elementary when I was grilling the kids to name poets they know, one boy offered up the name Phyllis Wheatley. Accustomed to a constant stream of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky responses, that one stopped me dead.
Who did you say?
“Phyllis Wheatley. She was a slave . . .”
Sweetheart, I know who she is — I just can’t believe YOU do. Kudos to your teacher!
There are some significant poetry connections being made in Birmingham, MI. Very cool.