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Saturday, September 6, 2008

That Time


Back in April, I spent a day in Johnston County, as part of the county arts council's Visiting Artist Series. Jessica Meadows, Johnston County Art Council’s able director, picked me up in Wilson (see previous posts), and drove me to N. Johnston County High School, where I spent well over an hour talking with students about poetry and giving them a writing assignment that yielded some terrific poems. Jessica herself graduated from North Johnston High and knew a lot of the faculty there, including Ms. Sonya Kiser, in whose classroom the workshop was held. On the drive over from Wilson, where I'd read at the Wilson County Library the night before, Jessica told me about her plans for encouraging the arts in her home county. Efficient, friendly, and smart, that's how I pegged Jessica. I didn't know she'd also cozied up to some pretty fishy characters in her past! (You can go to o to Jessica's blog for her take on my visit: http://blogs.wncn.info/jcarts/2008/04/23/my-day-with-the-nc-poet-laureate/)



(Jessica and Friend)

One of Jessica's council members videotaped the session, and a portion of that can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6FWWxmoAS4. In the photo I've included, I look rather severe, but I didn't feel that way at all. I was watching the students write, probably wondering how much longer to give them before I called "Time's Up!"

The tried and true springboard I used was “That Time,” and I often hand out Simon Ortiz’s poem, by that same title, to introduce the session. This time I began with a poem of my own, about being their age, looking in my mirror and worrying over my image while down the road some serious racial conflict was taking place. Here is a selection of poems from the class, ending with one by Ms. Kiser, whose room was the scene of our poetic adventures. These poems might be good ones to use in English/writing classes to show what other students are writing. If you have comments, please leave them in "comments" section at the end of this post.




I hear the roar that will change my life,
And catch a glimpse of a silver metallic beauty
in the edge of my peripheral.

A familiar face in a hooded coat,
Wheeling in the only dream I ever wanted.

Stunned and astonished, being the least of my worries,
Smiles tenfold embrace my weakness.

I see a green sign, with words bold in black,
Be careful my son, you’re precious to us all.

---------Ben White


That time 12 years ago when I watched
The Miss America pageant, just hoping
That I could be her up there one day.
The sparkle that shined in her eyes
The beautiful shimmering dress that
Lit up the stage. It was that time when
I knew that I wanted to be somebody
But who, I wasn’t quite sure. I would
Dress up, play pageant, wear crowns but
It was just never like the “Miss America”
I still could see in what little I could remember
Of my childhood memories. I want to be Miss America,
I want to run in the Olympics, I want to make a difference
And I want that time that I realize who I really am.

------------Elizabeth Baker



That time seemed ages ago
Although it wasn’t
Standing, waiting, should I go.
Have I missed it?

That moment didn’t last long
The span which was
No more than a second or two
I have missed it.

That place I should have been
Trusting instinct over thought
Knowing that I missed it
I can’t turn around.

-------------Josh Reed

That time my parents drove me to school
And escorted me for the first time
Up the wooden steps of the gray trailer
Into the room filled with unfamiliar faces.

A tall, dark-haired woman greeted me
With her reassuring face and kind eyes
And showed me to the little table
I was to share with three other children.

Around me was so much sadness
But in front of me a cute little owl
Looked up at me pleading to be colored
With the little crayons in the basket.

My parents hugged me through teary eyes
Gave me a kiss and said “Good-bye.”

--------------Jada Owens





The trucks were washed and polished.
The flowers had been picked up.
The dress and tux were matching.
Everything was ready for it to come.

The precision of time was a must.
The date could not be late.
The family was ready for the arrival.
The arrival of the night to come.

He reached the house at the moment
That he had been told be there.
There she stood in the dress
That her father had paid many a buck.

Flash! Flash! Flash! Went the cameras
The first the night would bring.
For neither knew what to come.
The adventure had just begun.

They met their friends to eat.
For this was a rare special treat.
Everyone was getting along.
The excitement was yet to come.

------------Chad Holloman



That time I heard the phone ring at
One o’clock in the morning.

My grandmothers’ voice at the other end
Stricken with fear she screamed “My house is on fire.”

I stood motionless –
Time stood still.

My parents broke my hypnosis – my trance-
as they pushed me out the door.

As we grow closer, I could see the
Gray clouds of smoke consuming the night
Sky, leaving no star in sight.

Did not know what to think.

Sirens drowned out my ability of comprehension.

My mind took me back to all the memories –
Eating banana popsicles on the tailgate
Of his yellow 73 toyota pick-up, playing dress-up in her
Enchanted closet filled with princes
And white stallions, camping under
The blanket canopy tied to the bedposts
That reached as high as Jack’s beanstalk,
The famous fried bologna sandwich and fast fries,
A meal fit for a king –
Then, a nudge from someone trying to steal a glance
- a nudge – back to reality –
Tears flood from my eyes
Frantic, I search for them –
Praying, I ask God for Granny
And Papa to be okay.
Peace filled me.
My eyes opened –
There before me stood my
Grandparents and my childhood
Walking hand in hand.

-----------------Jessica Byrd




That time when I was going to go on my first date
I sat there and wondered if I could ever be her best mate.
I thought and thought about what should be done
And finally came up with the attitude to just have fun
That for me was the best call
Because for her, she didn’t expect anything at all
Thought everything we did was all from my head
I felt that I was doing everything that she had said
Nothing ever came from that time we spent together
But for me it is something that I will remember forever
For me I wish that the spark could have simmered
But for her it was just some guy she met in late December.

------------Anthony Allen


That time was just a
Short
Second that seemed
To last an eternity-
 
Eight 'o clock in the morning,
"I'm late for school" I screamed
When Mama came around the corner
And I just knew.
 
I knew
 
But I denied it when she leaned down and told me.
I shook, I screamed, I cried,
My heart was breaking.
 
That time, that morning,
My Hero.
My Best Friend.
My Daddy.
Was gone.
 
------------Blair Middleton



That time
That I fussed over my hair dryer,
My frizzed ,
Curled hair.
That I cried and complained,
Looked forward to times I knew would come.
That time I ignored her face,
Her eyes,
Her feelings not spoken.
But blurred.
And I complained of what was to come,
Not seeing what was there.
That time
When all I cared about was me.
Me, me, my friends, my life, my parent’s divorce,
Me.
And forgot everything else.
Her loss, her separation, her pain.
That time,
That she mentioned she had gone to a doctor.
Pills.
Depression.
That time,
That maturity let me see hind sighted blindness.
And that time,
When I realized the divorce was more,
Than me leaving my friends,
Me leaving my house,
My past,
And was more about her ending her marriage,
Her alone,
Her alone with a blinded daughter.
But I’m here now.
I see now.
That time has ended.
Is over.

--------------Pauline Gremaud


That Time

That time I sat crying in my dorm room
Believing the world was over because he had broken up with me
I opened the card – removed it form the beige envelope written in a familiar but awkward hand
The card was Care Bears, but with a twist
The hand-drawn grenade being dropped form the blue bear on the puffy cloud
Onto the head of the stick figure labeled with the ex-boyfriend’s name

And the words…
the words written inside
Specifics unremembered now, but the semtiment –
“I’ve got your back”
Was more than I’d ever thought
Meant more than I’d known then –
Means even more now –
That silent solidarity
The blood-tie unbroken
The love – louder than any gesture before or since –
the card from my brother


--------------Sonya Kiser
English Teacher

2 comments:

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

If you have your own "springboards" for student writing, please leave them for me here in the comments section.
Thanks! KSB

Catherine said...

These poems are so intriguing. You can tell that each one of the writers wrote their poem from their heart. I love how each one of them displays a significant time in the writer’s life. I believe that it adds a lot more depth to the poems and makes them more enjoyable. Also, the different structures and styles are great for revealing that poetry does not have to go along a specific rhyming pattern or structure. These poems are all very well written and have a variety of styles and structures.