Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sweetest Sixteen

I don't write much about what goes on in the classroom here, but this week we had a much closer and entertaining final four than the one dominated by North Carolina, and it deserves some press. This here is the Eastern Regional for a competition we held to decide the coolest of the sixteen poems we've transcribed over the course of the past eight weeks.

And this is the Western Regional. I thought about seeding it so that the favorites wouldn't meet until the final four, but it was too hard to figure out. My personal favorites on this side are probably the Li Po up top and the Mary Oliver at the bottom, "Rain," and the Jim Moore poem "It is Not the Fact That I Will Die That I Mind."

In the East, though, I was pulling for Robert Desnos' "Infinitive," probably the most out there thing we've read this year.

At the end of a long process involving statistics tallied in box scores, alternating possessions and an evolving set of rules that I only half understood, three different classes picked winners. The Iraq veteran Brian Turner's poem "Here Bullet" emerged as an early favorite in all three classes, but didn't win in any of them. Two actually crowned the Jim Moore and one the Desnos!

I was so pleased with that, really, to see a poem that makes so little sense on the surface strike a chord when most people can't stand poems they don't "get." And another strong competitor turned out to be a somewhat less surreal poem by Robert Bly, "Surprised by Evening."

And this is what the area around my desk looks like in the morning sunlight. The morning light is the best thing about that room. Well, that and the students. The Bunsen burners and the eye washing station are also nice perks.
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Dawn Potter said...

Good-looking room. I wish you had been my high school English teacher.

Mindstroller said...

I had german in that room one semester. Do you use the whole room or just the half that has the tables in it? Because the other half has a great area for all sorts of activities and crafts.

nathan_fisher said...

This year's National Poetry poster is pretty awesome.

Also, picking some pretty obscure ones there, Hill. I had to google that 'It is not the fact...' poem and only five results came up, including this blog.

Glad to see AP Lit is leading the poetry vanguard.

Mr. Hill said...

What a nice thing to say to an English teacher, Dawn. Thanks. I think you would have been an unruly student, though, so it's for the best.

It has been two years in that room but I still find tiny Germans crafting in the odd cupboard. I've tried traps, but they're smart.

That poem turns out to be less obscure than I thought--I just googled it and saw that it was on Writer's Almanac a few years ago, which is practically like being on American Idol for poets, except that Keillor always has such nice things to say.

Dawn Potter said...

Nice comment on my blog about your classroom, if you want to check it out.

Mindstroller said...

Ah Garrison Keillor. That man could conquer the world with his voice. And then he'd tell a nice story about it.