Friday, October 25, 2013

A Seventh Grade Teacher Forces Me to Write Bad Poetry

So, I got this email a few hours ago:
Hello Mike, 
My name is Uma* and my son enjoys reading your books and has chosen you for an author study for his English class. He's in 7th grade.  The assignment is to pick three books written by an author (but only one from a series). For the assignment Omo* has read Ashfall and the novelette, Darla's Story.  This is how I'm hoping and praying you can help? By any small chance do you have a short story, poem, or any other piece of writing you'd be willing to share with my son so we can complete his reading assignment?

I know I'm probably asking too much but I though I'd give it a try as the assignment is due this Tuesday and if we can't find a short writing by you we have only a few days to restart the assignment which isn't possible.

Thank so much in advance for even reading this email and hopefully considering helping my son with this dilemma.

All my best,


Here's what I wrote back:
Hi Uma*,

Good lord, that's an annoying assignment. Let the poor kid read what he wants to!

Sure, here's some haiku for your son. I'm sorry, I'm a terrible poet, but hopefully this will do:

Reading is more fun
when students are allowed
to choose their own books

This is fun! Let me try another:

There's nothing wrong with
reading a series, one book
after the other.

Hey, maybe I'm not as bad as haiku as I thought! I'm going to write a non-haiku now. Ooh, poetry level-up! I'm even going to do a title like real poets. Here we go:

Children Who Read

Are less likely to use illegal drugs,
Are more likely to delay sexual activity,
Score better on standardized tests (not that it should matter),
Are less likely to wind up in juvie or prison,
And are more pleasant to talk with.

Yet some teachers
Squeeze the joy from reading
Turning passion into peels
Dry and lifeless.

Yet some teachers
Try to quantify the unquantifiable
"Its Lexile is too low."
"You can't read it."
"Its Lexile is too high."
"You can't read it."

Yet some teachers
Give rewards for reading
AR points or chemical candies
Though reading is its own reward.

Other teachers nurture readers.
Guide their book choices
instead of forcing them.
Some teachers collect books like gems,
but share them like love.

To teachers who sow books
in the furrows of young minds,
And to readers who persevere
despite their teachers,
I give

Hmm, hope that helps. If my poetry is too political, you could use this:



And she wrote:

Hey Mike-

You're amazing! Thank you so much for your concern! I'm sure this will fulfill the assignment requirement!

Omo* says thank you and he hopes you have plans for future novels!

We'll never forget your help!

All wishes for your successful future,

Uma* and Omo*

*I have changed the names of the mother and her son for privacy. I've also edited their emails in trivial ways. I edited the poems I sent them for this post, too, because my first efforts were far too embarrassing to share on my blog.