Friday, January 29, 2010

Among the BEST Teachers: 3 Poetic Dedications

Oh my, but I am winding down, down, down. I still have lots 'o topics, but diminishing energy. On Fridays I like to write up something light, and so I went in search of another of my favorite "teacher" poems - one written by Bill Strong, formerly of Utah State University. Once the lines were safely framed behind glass and hung on a wall in my study, but one day something knocked against the wall and down came the favorite poem. Now scratched and covered in shining splinters, I tucked it in a safe place until I purchased another frame. I know it's in a file somewhere.

Then I thought, "Surely I can google the poet and/or poem for NEARLY anything ever written lies hidden somewhere in cyberspace. If I find just the right combination of search terms or phrases, I'll stumble upon it." I was right. BUT - and this is what I LOVE about searching the Internet - I found a couple of additional gems along the way - treasures I wouldn't have uncovered had I reframed his dedication to a teacher he once knew. And now I will share my discoveries with you!

Here is a version of William J. Strong's poem "I Knew a Teacher Once." The teacher was female in my copy, but this rendering was included in a tribute to the late Dr. Charles Mazer, former director of the East Texas Writing Project. I also believe a few other lines have been revised to better describe Bill's friend. I think I like this version better.

I knew a teacher once

With words as soft
As moths on summer screens.
Brittle bright and
Cruel was not his style.
As others barked,
His whispers touched the dark
Inside your soul
And seemed to echo there.
The way was sure.
He always took the time:
Refused the rush
Of world report for poems–
And pushed aside
The weight of dusty tomes
To scratch his nose
And pass around the mints.
He seemed alive.

You couldn't put him on.
He'd take a book
And make it yours and his
In magic ways
That made your breath come quick.
His wink was slight.
The eyes were bright and clear,
A hush of greens.
You'd watch the pause of smile,
A patient blink
That let the question hang.
His tease would make
You more than eyes and ears.
It often made
Your insides twist and think.
I guess he liked
His work enough to make
It play for us.

2. Before I found Dr. Strong's poem, I was surprised by this poem, also titled "I Knew a Teacher Once," but penned by Erin Marie Cosen. At first I thought the young poet may have plagarized my old Utah Writing Project instructor's work, but as I read the lines, I decided she used his poem as a pattern. AND I wouldn't be surprised if she composed her tribute while attending a writing project workshop! Read on, and tell me what YOU think!

I Knew A Teacher Once
I knew a teacher once
with the sweetest voice
Her always caring words
spoken in precious
melodies. Never a
harsh word did she speak,
and reflected in her
joyous eyes, was the
music of her voice. Though
her smile was quite
lopsided, that only
made it all the more
radiant. Tinkling
was her laughter, like
sleigh bells on Christmas Day.
She could have been a
Dancer, so graceful was
her every movement.

It didn't matter if
you were good or bad
She loved you just the same.
We visited the
jailhouse, and raced across
the country for a
taste of balanced breakfasts.
She sympathized and
cared then, as well as now.
And she could give out
courage and confidence
as though they came in
neatly wrapped packages.
Never will there be
another teacher like
Mrs. Dreibelbis.
Like a crystal snowflake
there is only one.

3. This last find is NOT a poem, but the prose is poetic. I can't credit the author because this is an introduction to thesis # 91 in a collection of 100 theses. I do know the author is English, and the title of this essay is "Teachers: Professionals or Parrots," but I can't locate the title of the entire collection. It is interesting that the three pieces, saved as a PDF file, could serve as blog posts, and the author's goal was to write 100 of them. And NO, I'm not going to change push MY finish line from 31 posts to 100! Here is treasure #3!
I had a teacher once ...
I had a teacher once… no oil painting he, with sagging
stomach, Roman nose and Hapsburg chin. He taught us both
‘A’ level history and English, but he was equally passionate
about cricket, medieval art and music. We never knew
what would happen in each lesson, he simply fascinated us
and sent us scampering away to ask a thousand questions.
Good night now, Friends. Hope you enjoyed reading these offerings as much as I enjoyed finding them!

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