Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back To School Blog Month: Poetry Reading

Last year, I listened in on an online writer's conference chat on poetry. It was the final conference chat, so I thought, what the heck? Much to my surprise, during the discussion, I had a poetry flashback.  
Back in sophomore honors English, my teacher, Mrs. Goheen, gave us the assignment of memorizing and reciting a poem in front of the entire class.  I was/am not a huge fan of poetry to begin with, so this was an assignment akin to flossing and brushing the dog's teeth.  When I see poetry in books, the words get fuzzy and begin to dance around into a deadly vortex.  At the same time, I admit, there are several poems and poets I do really like.  Completely true to form, I forget all about the poetry memorization assignment until late evening the night before I'm to be thrown to the wolves.  I search frantically through our home bookshelf while listening to the "I told you so's" from my mother and the laughing/taunting from my brothers.  All in the know go to bed that night thinking old Mike Hays is toast the next morning in English class. 
I sat in class the next morning, waiting to be summoned to the gallows.  When my name is called, I can feel the class and Mrs. Goheen tense up in anticipation of my potential failure .  For those who don't know me, I am a football lineman, plain and simple.  I was probably the last over the cut line to get into honors English. I was a seat filler, a butt in the seat, the dumbest kid in the smart class. I stand in front of the class, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.  I crack my knuckles, clear my throat for a little slapstick comic relief, take my best Shakespearean stance and begin.


"Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is especially fond
Of a puddle or pond
When it dines or sups,
Its bottoms ups.
-The Duck by Odgen Nash"


I can't remember what grade I received on the project.  The audience seemed truly entertained and Mrs. Goheen seemed satisfied with my selection.  I am sure it was probably a B+.   Later in the discussion portion of class, Mrs. Goheen asked why I picked that particular poem.  I told her it was my favorite poem, but in all reality, it fit when written on the top of my tennis shoes, just in case.  
But, The Duck became my favorite poem and still the only one I have burned to memory.  Thank you Ogden Nash.

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