Imagination on Poetry Friday

Bridget Magee‘s sweet story about Mimi on “Career Day” brought back lots of memories for me, memories of challenging students that I didn’t fully appreciate. Educators often find it easier to reward the compliant above the renegade,
the pliant above the protestor,
the submissive above the stand-aloner,
the docile above the defector,
the faithful above the fighter,
the agreeable above the agitator,
the answerer above the questioner.

What would our world be like without that second group of believers? I’ve been thinking about the Mimi’s in my life today, often ones whose gifts and talents aren’t fully appreciated in school as we know it. I wrote a small poem about Mimi today.

Big Imagination

Sometimes students are smarter
than their teachers,
Captivating and creative,
Free and flashy.
Students like pre-SNL
eight-year-olds
Amy, Tina, Aidy and Kate before her,
Mimi knows something
most others in the room
have yet to learn:
She can make a mark
Create a splash
Fling a spark
She knows how to
plant a seed
and reap a harvest,
To charm and quiet the powerful

Thank you, Bridget, for the inspiration today.

Yesterday I wrote another poem about imagination for the feature that Margaret Simon writes at her Reflections on the Teche blog: “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” (Click that last link to see the photo we wrote about). I wrote a limerick about this sweet girl intent on her imaginative play.

There once was a girl full of dreams
Creating play magic, she beams
Colors everywhere
Her actions declare
The joy of keen-eyed extremes

However, I can’t seem to get a last line that I’m happy with. I started to retool it to:
“New joy in the journey redeemed” – maybe in a nod to easing Covid restrictions, but that isn’t clear in that line. Or “Her life: a crucial course in STEAM” (science, technology, engineering, art, math). Other last lines are eluding me, though there are a few good possibilities: team, stream, scheme, theme, seem, supreme, esteem, sunbeam.

But then I went back to the original post and saw that Janet, the photographer and grandmother of the subject, wrote a positive comment about her granddaughter’s extremes:

So I kept the original so far, but I’m not satisfied. I am rarely convinced to call something a final draft. I’m always tinkering on revisions, so to all the poets who may be reading today:

Do you have a suggestion for that last line?

18 thoughts on “Imagination on Poetry Friday

  1. First of all, Welcome to Poetry Friday, Denise! So great that you joined our community. 🙂
    Secondly, wow. I am so touched that my Mimi story inspired your post and your poem. So true about these underappreciated and often silenced students – I was guilty of doing just that back in the day. I’m just now figuring out how to:
    “make a mark
    Create a splash
    Fling a spark” as an educator and a human! Ha!
    And finally, Denise, your limerick captures the spirit of that photo perfectly. I’ll have to ponder your final line, but I think you are on the right track with your limerick so far. I’m 100% with you on this sentiment:
    “I am rarely convinced to call something a final draft.” 🙂

    1. Thank you, Bridget, for your welcoming comment and comment. I like what you said about you learning what Mimi already knows. Me too. I was mostly a compliant student, and still tend to be. I do like to throw in a spark once in a while, though.

  2. Wow! What a quick poem from Bridget’s inspiration. I agree…those kids that cause the rapids in the river. Gosh, how many have I not appreciated? As I become an “older” teacher I love them more. But still–school isn’t designed for nonconformity. You’ve made me think. I will find a kid today that needs to be celebrated for their spark!

  3. I love how you took inspiration this week and turned them to great poetry. I teach gifted kids who are full of extremes and are often not accepted by peers ( and some teachers). Your limerick is precious. I missed your original comment on my blog. (I usually get alerts. Not sure why I didn’t)

    1. Thank you, Margaret. Good point about the gifted students full of extremes. No worries about missing the original comment. There are so many! I just realized I don’t have your name in my post, so I’m adding it here!

  4. I love hearing about the classroom and how important it is to see students as individuals, finding the “spark” in them. Lovely poems!

    1. Thank you, Janice. I like the way you put that–“see students as individuals, finding the ‘spark’ in them.” Yes, indeed. Thanks!

  5. Hi Denise, welcome to Poetry Friday. I, like Margaret, taught gifted students, often thinking in new ways, approaching life following different paths than expected. How wonderful that you wrote about those kids, like Mimi & Janet’s granddaughter, pulling their own “beams” into your poems. (FYI – serendipity it must be! My anti-spam words are “beams kin”.)

    1. Thank you, Linda. So true that they follow different paths than expected. I wonder why we sometimes have so many expectations for how children should do school. “Beams kin” is so apt!

  6. BIG IMAGINATIONS is terrific! Both of my kids were in public school gifted programs–not always easy on these bright kids. A psychologist at my son’s school opened his talk by saying, your kids are probably smarter than you are. Good luck with your limerick, and thanks for your rich post!

    1. Thank you, Michelle! Yes, I have always believed I’ve had smarter kids than me. One of my first years, Annemarie, grade 2, was writing a list of -ard rhyming words for some phonics lesson. I said, “Bard isn’t a real word.” She said, “Oh yes, it’s a singing minstrel in a royal court.”

  7. I love BIG IMAGINATION, but also your “list poem” in the first paragraph! So much truth here! I am constantly awed by my students’ brilliance!!

    1. Mary, thank you! I love that last line you wrote: “I am constantly awed by my students’ brilliance!!” It would be a better world if every teacher did the same!

      P.S. Mary, I just noticed you wrote the 2500th comment here on my blog! There were no ringing bells and balloons falling from the ceiling, and no prizes, just a smiling notice by me! Thank you!

  8. I love your use of language in both of these poems, especially “create a splash/fling a spark” and (as others have said) “she beams colors everywhere.” The words are vivid and full of energy. Thanks for sharing!

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