Posted by: Tom Triumph | April 5, 2009

27. Now: Mary Barnard

From the woman whose bespectacled face is staring at you from the top of this page….

When I first set up this blog I had typed “poet” into Google Images and her face peer up from the thumbnail. I kept coming back to it, until she graced this blog. A link can be found on the bottom of the “About Middle School Poetry 180” page tab.  Now, let her be known for her work.

This is a great poem to use with middle school students because they are just having those dark thoughts. What makes teaching middle school unique is that we to deal with those new, adult awarenesses. Parents and elementary school teachers see their babies reading middle school classics like “The Chocolate War” and “Speak” and fear that they are in a bad place or will be drawn in there. By high school, parents and teachers know their child is either IN that dark place or is doing an academic study on despair for some Modern American Fiction 340 class.  Middle school, though, begins a true investigation into death, sex and eating disorders and all of the ways it might come about. “I like real books”: Translation: Books about real situations in a world that looks like mine that reflect what I’m thinking about right now.  As I write this “Go Ask Alice” is making the rounds from student to student, while I stumbled upon a copy of “Cut”.  For some guidance on exploring this area as a teacher, take at look at my article “Too Old to Know, Too Young to Learn” on another blog.

Barnard acknowledges these thoughts–perhaps not as a middle schooler, but as a human being–and rejects them for now. I find it positive. What do you think?

Now
Mary Barnard

I never wanted to kill
myself, never wanted
to die; but now, looking
ahead, thinking of thought
some day going awry
and trickling to a stop,
leaving a smelly shell
high on a dry beach

I think–
almost
I think–
but
No. Not yet.

Note: The lines “almost” and “but” in the second stanza are indented a good ten spaces, but I cannot figure out how to make that happen on my draft.

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