Friday, August 13, 2010

Dead Asian Poets

“Poetry has no effect on our lives. There is nothing about poetry that is important.” -William Chung, Hartenstein 9th grader

Strawberry Bubbles
(A poem composed during my first tango lesson)


While proctoring an algebra test this morning
I stood by the window in classroom 701
And watched a yellow Taiwanese cat
Walk across a brown tiled roof and leap
Into red berry bush. Outside the men in bamboo hats
Grimaced around a steaming engine of an
Overworked tractor scratching
Their chins
As I lick my lips for
I still have the taste of
Strawberries on my tongue.
It is quiet.
The cicadas are gone, burrowed
Back in their holes
And I have Argentinean music
Ever so faint
In my ears from the night before.
Last night in dance class
We learned the tango for the first
Time in our lives.
I closed my eyes and still feel you
In my arms. Clumsy me,
I had to look at your feet so as not to step
On your tail, my little feline,
But you lifted my face to see your eyes
Making me laugh.
You said, “Want some gum?”
And I opened my mouth as you
Popped a strawberry bubble
Right on my nose.
(Cockroach in my room. Later I accidentily stepped on this and it squished through my toes.)

Teaching a summer school unit on poetry in the stifling heat of Republic of Chinese Taiwan ain’t no picnic. Still, some of my students surprise me. Here’s the pop-off comment of the week.

“I think Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is about a man having to choose between sex with two women. The poet writes, ‘Long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth. Then took the other…’ which was ‘grassy and wanted wear.’” -Stanly, 9th grader

Well played, Stanley. You are sick and demented.
Xian graduated last month and now she is an official big kid first grader. She has begun classes in the building next to mine and so I can wander over in my spare time and see her sitting in class studying. She takes classes in math, science, global studies, health, P.E. music, art, and English and Chinese. She is learning to write Chinese characters and to diagram sentences in English. As a parent, I am faced with the Asian workload issue of how much homework do you need to give a six year old? I’ll keep you posted.
The other day we headed over to Vitaly’s to make homemade bread. He is a big Russian I plan on writing about at further length in an upcoming blog. He has a son Xian’s age and his parents owned an actual windmill in Siberia. We kneaded the dough, watched it bake and rise and cool on the outside window sill, then ate it with homemade jam and butter.
Rebekah had so much fun getting messy.
(Disgusting, yes... I actually ate at McDonalds this month. I know... I'm still sick.)

Random notes from students on Poetry Unit Assessment:

“Poetry has such wonderful effects on our lives. Poetry makes us feel happy, sad, remember, cherish, and it keeps us living. I quote John Keating from Dead Poets Society, ‘We live for poetry!’” -Winnie, 8th grader
(Sushi Date!)

“Poetry is used for people’s imagination. An example of this is when an author wants to say something about romance, but he doesn’t just say love, he says, like in Robbie Burns’ poem, ‘My love is like a red, red rose.’ That is so much more imaginative.” -Margaret, 8th grader
(Hartenstein grooms new 7th graders during summer camp on how to have some fun.)

“Poetry lets us know the stories of other people and it leaves us hollow and barren with space to imagine ourselves in the depths of the universe so we can climb out and discover what everything is about.” - Vivian, 8th grader
As Kinu just grows and grows and gets bigger, speaking so much English and Chinese, I thought I would dedicate some of my student’s Haiku’s to her. She is my little bundle of poetry.

Cold wind blows today
The leaves turn red and gold here
Wind blows my heart cold -Reece, 9th grader


The longest distance
Your best friend standing in front
Not knowing your thoughts -Alan, 8th grader

Through the dark forest
Gorilla is there waiting
For his own true love -Amy, 8th grader


The time I saw you
You were laughing so lovely
Years past, nothing changed -Julie, 8th grader

Homework and low scores
Boring class and sad teachers
Can you disappear? -Rebecca, 9th grader

1 comment:

  1. Your girls are all grown up! Hope you're doing well... I enjoy reading your blogs. :) You'll be pleased to know Graham and I went to lunch today too... he is going back to Korea on the 25th. We're not married yet...

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