“Teach them the quiet words of kindness, to live beyond themselves. Urge them toward excellence, drive them toward gentleness, pull them deep into yourself, pull them upward toward manhood, but softly like an angel arranging clouds. Let your spirit move through them softly.” ~ Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides)
Another September, another school year. A time of new school supplies and textbooks, new teachers and classes, making new friends. 🙂
Are you familiar with Edwin Romond’s Dream Teaching (Grayson Books, 2004)? This collection is truly a gem; the 34 funny, insightful, and poignant poems (written from the POVs of both student and teacher), were inspired by his 32 years as a public school English teacher in Wisconsin and New Jersey.
I’m happy to share the title poem from the book today — it brought back fond memories of my own English classes, particularly the years I taught high school English in London. You don’t have to be an educator or current student to enjoy Romond’s poems — we’re all lifelong learners, right?
Now, at last, we know what English teachers really dream about. 🙂
by Edwin Romond
I am first in line for coffee
and the copier is not broken yet.
This is how dreams begin in teaching high school.
First period the boy who usually carves skulls
into his desk raises his hand instead
to ask about Macbeth and, for the first time,
I see his eyes are blue as melting ice.
Then, those girls in the back
stop passing notes and start taking them
and I want to marvel at tiny miracles
but still another hand goes up
and Butch the drag racer says he found the meaning
in that Act III soliloquy. Then more hands join the air
that is now rich with wondering and they moan
at the bell that ends our class and I ask myself,
“How could I have thought of calling in sick today?”
I open my eyes for the next class and no one’s late,
not even Ernie who owns his own time zone
and they’ve all done their homework
that they wave in the air
because everyone wants to go to the board
to underline nouns and each time I turn around
they’re looking at me as if I know something
they want and, steady as sunrise, they do everything right.
At lunch the grouchy food lady discovers smiling
and sneaks me an extra meatball. In the teachers’ room
we eat like family and for twenty-two minutes
not one of us bitches about anything.
Then the afternoon continues the happiness of hands
wiggling with answers and I feel such a spark
when spike-haired Cindy in the satanic tee shirt
picks the right pronoun and glows like a saint.
And me, I’m up and down the room now, cheering,
cajoling, heating them up like a revival crowd.
I’m living only in exclamatory sentences. They want it all
and I’m thinking, “What drug are we on here?”
Just as Crusher Granorski screams, “Predicate nominatives
are awesome!” the principal walks in
with my check and I say, “That’s okay,
you can keep it.” When the bell sounds
they stand, raise lighted matches
and chant, “Adverbs! Adverbs!”
I drive home petting my plan book.
At night I check the weather without wishing for a blizzard,
then sleep in the sweet maze of dreams
where I see every student from 32 years of school days:
boys and girls, sons and daughters who’re almost mine,
thousands of them stretching like dominoes into the night
and I call the roll and they sing, “We’re all here, Mr. Romond!”
When I pick up my chalk they open their books,
look up and, with eager eyes, ask me to teach them.
Nice bit of serendipity: About a year ago I featured a donut poem by Seattle-based poet Martha Silano. Just so happens Mr. Romond was Martha’s ninth grade English teacher. She wrote a lovely post about it at her blog Blue Positive. It wasn’t until she took his class that she became aware of “all the possibilities of a life devoted to literature.” Four years ago, they read their poems together at the Barrons Art Center in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
Mr. Romond has also written a wonderful donut poem, which I’ll share here soon. Poets and donuts, a nice way to come full circle, isn’t it? There’s something deliciously inspiring about that. 🙂
Edwin Romond is a poet, playwright, and composer. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, college text books and anthologies, and has twice been featured on National Public Radio.
He has written eight books of poetry, two musical plays, and was a public school teacher for 32 years in Wisconsin and New Jersey. Romond now works part-time in the poetry program of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and is also on staff at the Ruggiero Funeral Home, Pen Argyl, PA. His most recent poetry collection is Alone with Love Songs (Grayson Books, 2011).
A native of Woodbridge, NJ, he lives in Wind Gap, PA with his wife, Mary, and their son, Liam.
The lovely Carol Varsalona is hosting the Roundup at Beyond Literacy Link. She’s featuring a sneak peek of her upcoming summer gallery of artistic expressions. Click over to check it out along with the full menu of poetic goodness being shared around the blogosphere this week.
HAPPY SCHOOL YEAR, ALL!
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~ William Arthur Ward
Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.