Saturday, April 01, 2017
April Is National Poetry Month . . .
. . . so I'm posting a longer version of something I wrote about here eight or ten years ago.
In 1963 I started my teaching career in Corsicana, Texas, a former oil-boom town like my hometown of Mexia, which was 30 miles away, and like Mexia going through leaner times. The job paid $50 a year above the state minimum, and Corsicana was the kind of place where there were a lot of young teachers who would move on after a couple of years, and a good many older ones who'd decided to make their lives there.
During my two years there, I shared an apartment with Spencer Lee Olesen, and we socialized with a few of the other young teachers, including three women named Jeanette (to whom Spencer was later married), Judy, and Kaye. Sometimes in the evenings we'd talk about our students and our classes, and one night Kaye showed us some poems her elementary students had written.
She didn't think much of it, but I can still see it now in my mind's eye, the cramped cursive handwriting (in pencil) on lined notebook paper. And after well over 50 years, I still remember every word of it:
There was an old man
Who lived in a can
And when it rained
He had a pain
And when it poured
He growed a gourd
I told Kaye that the poem was deserving of an A. She didn't agree with me. Maybe beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. I don't know what grade the poet got, but now and then I look back and wonder whatever happened to him. I hope he's out there somewhere, still writing.