Precisely nothing’s more precious than a young spark’s genuine enthusiasm. Prior to my experience in this classroom, I was experientially ignorant of this maxim. Professional recluse, I had holed up amongst dead guys’ thoughts about the now-dead they had lived with long enough to forget where the words came from in the first place.
“But what do I write next?” said Christopher, fire-eyed desk master of grade 9.
“Anything you want!”
“Of course!” I watched as jolts of excitement shot through his eyes. “Imagine your life is a video game. Write about what that feels like on a typical day.”
Or how about Jadon, who, when asked to consider using a death-persona in his next poem, only squinted, irritated. He said, “I’ve already done that plenty.” He then slipped me six stanzas of tercets, iambic for the most part, and end-rhymed, in which his speaker whined utterly Prufrockian claustrophobe, to bliss! This was followed by a presentation of a four-part series of similarly crafted poems entitled, “Trapt,” which featured even more inventive, albeit cathartic, lyrical excitations of ennui. Death? Been there.
There’s no telling from which direction the light shines in this club. One is overcome as it bursts from all angles. What of Jammonica, confidently kind, who writes of the cat-clawed ghoul in the shadow? Or Isaiah, master of his own rhythms, who effortlessly scrawls quick witted transcendentalist lyrics that have urgency and demonstrate a connotative linguistic impulse wholly intuited, diamond gleamy.
The atmosphere is one of casual-self reveal, if ever, only a small encouragement is necessary. At the closing of class, the occasional first-time reader enacts the same beautiful pageantry: we all watch as timidity and uncertainty slowly transforms before us, leaking through the feet into the floor, leaving what was clouded at the start—bright sun—a marvel we mirror with an ecstasy of applause.
Thaddeus Harmon is a poet in the MFA Creative Writing program.