Thursday, March 27, 2014


Oftentimes poetry is designated as something serious, weighty, lofty, even inaccessible. Especially in schools. Poetry is saddled with these very somber labels, and the very idea of writing or reading it is linked with apprehension or distress. Students often think that poetry can only deal with subjects of the utmost gravity and sobriety. 

This is exactly why I try to emphasize play when I teach poetry. Poetry can be fun, and funny. It's a celebration of language, not just a lament of all the terrible things in the world. 

Earlier this year we did the Dr. Seuss challenge as a type of poetic play, and last week we tried something else. I had students write what they considered to be good names/titles for a restaurant, a band, and a children's movie. They then had to choose one name/title and write a poem about the menu, the music, or write the lyrics to the movie's opening song. It was lighthearted and fun, and it served as a reminder of how much one can play with words and ideas. 

Below is one of my poems about a restaurant named "Burnt."

A picture from the Burnt Food Museum.
Yes, that's a thing. 

Welcome sir and welcome ma'am
Have a seat; we don’t make you stand.
Today we have a choice of meat,
Truly, both of you, take a seat.

Let me start you with some wine,
Perhaps a Riesling from the Rhine.
Here’s the list of dining choices;
Take your time; just use your voices.

Yes, I see that you've decided
From the menu that I provided.
A porterhouse for you sir, and for you?
Chicken with asparagus, that will do.

Now you’ll probably want to add a salad
Or perhaps a side, my advice is valid,
Because your meat will be burnt
...To a crisp, I wish it weren't.

But, you see, that’s what we do
You order food, we burn it through.
So, about that salad, if I am true,
Know we burn the lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes too

And just so we are all very clear
There’s next to nothing to eat here.
We burn the water and the ice;
We burn the butter once we've burned the rice.

We burn the bread and the spinach dips
We burn the fish and the all the chips.
We burn the pasta and the soup;
We burn the game hen before it’s left the coop.

We burn your napkins and your check;
You still have to pay or we burn your neck.
We burnt your car and your parking pass;
We burnt your chair, and we’re burning your...socks.

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