Monday, March 19, 2007

Community Education

I went back to high school! Well, not exactly. I was looking for a creative outlet (translation: a regularly scheduled evening activity where it would be completely inappropriate to bring children along) so I signed up for a creative writing class through the Boise School District. We don't even have a community college here, so the classes are held at local high schools.

I was hoping to make a friend, but the field narrowed very very quickly. We started with a full classroom, but on the day our first "assignment" (a short story rough draft) was due, only half the class showed up. That was our third class session. Now we have one week remaining and only seven students, one of whom is the teacher's mother.

After studying short stories, we moved on to poetry. I am particularly enamoured of the pantoum. This is a form I don't remember learning about when I last studied poetic forms in 6th grade. I DO, to my shame, recall writing a ballad explaining the origin of the stars --something to do with a winged unicorn and a mid-air collision. Any student poem worth its salt will employ a sophisticated rhyming scheme, of course. Mine utilized the rhymed pair "sight" and "dynamite." But I digress.

In a pantoum the stanzas have four lines. The second and fourth lines of the first stanza are reapeated as the first and third lines of the second stanza. The final stanza is a little different and ends with the first line. So, in a five stanza poem, the lines would take this order:

1 2 3 4
2 5 4 6
5 7 6 8
7 9 8 10
9 3 10 1

I am posting here the pantoum I wrote for class in solidarity with all those mothers and fathers out there who have ever tried to feed a toddler.

Pantoum for Nels

Why won't you eat your food?
I fixed it especially for you.
It's a meal I thought you'd love,
but you refuse it.

I fixed it especially for you;
PB & J with apple slices.
But you refuse it and
it sits untouched on your plate.

PB& J with apple slices is
a perfectly good lunch,
yet still you have not touched it.
Must I lift the sandwich to your mouth?

It's a perfectly good lunch,
but you're just staring at it.
Why must I lift the sandwich to your mouth?
I know you're hungry.

You're just staring at it,
this meal I thought you'd love.
I know you're hungry.
Why won't you eat your food?

So, that's the idea. Now you try. It's fun!

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