27 March 2007

My Day

Today was magical for me. Our students had a poetry competition at school and it was breathtaking to see them stand up and read their poems to their peers. At this time of the term it's the last thing I wanted to have in front of me today. My patience has worn to a thin veneer all week. The students were well behaved and attentive and gave each other the respect they deserved. There were 40 odd poems read to an audience of about 180 students from a variety of classes. Many were labelled as students who just wanted to get out of class, yet they learnt today. They listened, participated and responded appropriately to one anothers poetic offerings. I felt proud of them all and deeply touched by many of them. It was great.

The last week I have been blessed by my dad, recently retired coming to do a mountain of maintenance that I just haven't had time to attend to for a long time. As a result I now have a back garden that doesn't look like a neglected wilderness, two doors that I can get into my home with ease rather than a wrestle and a pile of rubbish removed from my view. My mum and auntie have helped me inside and I now feel I have a home to come to at the end of the day. It has made such a difference. I'm not sure how I managed to neglect everything so much but there have been quite a few things going on and I have found it easier to blog, read or sleep than to do anything productive.

I visited pa on the weekend and he has made an amazing recovery so far. He was sitting up and chatting to those around him. The doctors have solved a few of his health problems and he seems to be mending more, each time I visit. He has had mountains of visitors. He has 3 children, 15 grandchildren and over 20 great grandchildren. Most of them have been to see him in the past week or so, some travelling from Adelaide, Queensland and many from Melbourne. He is such a powerful force in our lives and so well loved.

Lot's of things happen in your day. So many that I can never manage to keep track of them all but today was great. So I am feeling very satisfied and blessed tonight. I am still tired and ready for my holidays due to commence at the end of the week, yet I feel content.


Steve said...

Hi Joh,

I visited here after you emailed me about my post on Kathy Sierra's blog. (Thanks again, by the way). I notice you teach creative writing to teenagers.

As coincidence would have it, I had a period a few years back when I wrote some poetry, and rather than writing in my own voice, I tried to write from a variety of viewpoints - most much younger than myself - in their teens or twenties. I thought I might post a couple here in the hopes that you would find them enjoyable.

They are, of course, reflective of my experience as an American and the stresses of American society - but perhaps Australians are not that different.

I had some thought at first of writing song lyrics - which turned out to be a much more difficult proposition - but because of that you will see these poems have a structure similar to a conventional song - and may include elements such as chorus and/or bridge. Seems to work okay in poetry - except sometimes a chorus can appear overly repetitious without music behind it. But I really like what the break of a bridge accomplishes. If used to best advantage it can be a literal "bridge" between different elements of mood - a point of reflection and movement after which the final verse reflects a more developed viewpoint. (Although the two poems I have included here don't show that as much as some of my others.)

The first is written from the viewpoint of an angry young man who is rebellious against society in general, and particularly his conventional suburban father.

WHO'S CRAZY (Revised 3/4/04)

You call me the crazy one
While you sit downstairs cleanin' your gun
You can't understand why I wanta start screamin'
While you set the alarm to keep out some demon

You want to give me your diagnosis
I say it's you that's got the psychosis

You wanta give me meds cause I'm too restless to sit down
But you'll sit still for anything - so who's really the clown?
You want to lock me up if I steal from the store
But you stand and cheer when some fools start a war


So who's crazy really? Is the normal world sane?
You think the folks that run the show got a working brain?
You wanta see crazy, just hold up the mirror
Look on the face of your own worst fear

You say I'm your nightmare, you say I'm what you fear
But you were losin' sleep long before I was here

So call me crazy, stop and stare,
Ask me if I even care
'Cause no matter what you say or do
I'm just happy not bein' you!

(c) 2004 Steve Crocker
comments welcome

That was written in a very angry voice, and a lot of folks seem to like it. And, of course, the change in meter at the ends probably breaks all kinds of rules of form - but it seems to be effective.

The other one is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Almost the only one I ever wrote that is "nice" in the conventional sense. The voice is that of a young girl, newly entered into adulthood, who explains to her mother why she had not been open and close with her for a while.


You were the one who had my back
You never gave up on me
You were the one whose love was always
There for me to see

Ugly caterpillar - that's how I felt
Didn't see how anybody could care
But no matter how hard I was to love
You were always there

I know you never understood
Why I pulled away from you
Couldn't have told you why myself
Just something I had to do

Some lessons learned, some courage earned
Can only be found alone
The strength of knowing who I really am
I had to find on my own

You stood by watching helpless at my silent cocoon
Not knowing what was going on inside
Not knowing if you watched the death of all your hopes and dreams
Not knowing why I felt the need to hide

The wait is over - now you can hear
The song that my heart sings
I hope I've made you proud of me
I hope you like my wings

(c) 2004 Steve Crocker
comments welcome

Kat said...

so happy for you Joh :)
love Kat

Joh said...

I like your poems. They show understanding of teenagers from what I see. I don't really know too much about poetry rules, I'm learning alongside my students most of the time. It's usually a fair exchange.
Kat, Thanks - are you coming home for the holidays? If so, catch you then.