Poetry / The English Teacher


I suppose it goes without saying (though say it I obviously will) that writers seek readers. Sure, sure, the ‘private’ stuff — you know, journals, diaries, personal letters to a lesser degree — finds itself on a page (real or cyber, matters not) for the writer; it’s only later, after he’s famous, and importantly, dead, that he posthumously becomes a diarist too. And maybe, if he was a writer of ‘note,’ he knew all along that some day his most private thoughts would find their way into the public library. Mostly, though, he’s hoping that his public writing — the novel, the poem, the essay — will find an audience.

So too with today’s bloggers. We’re all posting our thoughts, stories, opinions in an effort to gain a readership. Some of us share too much. Some of us, not enough. Some of us should go ahead a write a book already. Others of us should take up golf, pastry, or mayhap, just read a book or two, and see how good language works. Still others (or just one other!) should grab a ladder and climb on down from the horse she rides, use the more common ‘perhaps’ and stop judging everyone…

We write. We throw up the windows, fling wide the doors and invite others in to ‘read’ us. Yes, we do. Poets do the same. Billy Collins does it with panache in a poem entitled,


My life is an open book. It lies here

on a glass tabletop, its pages shamelessly exposed,

outspread like a bird with hundreds of thin paperwings.


It is a biography, needless to say,

and I am reading and writing it simultaneously

in a language troublesome and private.

Every reader must be a translator with a thick lexicon.


No one has read the whole thing but me.

Most dip into the middle for a few paragraphs,

then move on to other shelves, other libraries.

Some have time only for the illustrations.


I love to feel the daily turning of the pages,

the sentences unwinding like string,

and when something really important happens,

I walk out to the edge of the page

and, always the student,

make an asterisk, a little star, in the margin.


In the chapters common to us all we are “reading and writing simultaneously,” telling our stories in “language troublesome and private.”  Whether you only took the time to look for a picture (alas! you were disappointed), to read the opening paragraphs, or to see if “something really important happens” here, before you “move on” to other spaces, remember,

You read poetry today. And that is important. Word.


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