Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Taken Road

Which Way Now? I have to credit the folks at NPR for alerting me last week that Thursday was "Carry a Poem in Your Pocket" Day. I'm sure every day of the year is SOME kind of "Day," but this one seemed interesting. So, following the spirit of Johnny Appleseed, I set about dispersing poetry at random on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and the decision to do so definitely accomplished what I wanted it to accomplish. Actually, there were a couple of reasons why I decided to spread (and read) poetry Thursday morning, but motives are not important...leaving a spark was. I began by handing out copies of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken to everyone, coaches and administrators as well as students, I met traipsing the halls of the athletics department where I do most of my work. One person was somewhat dismayed that I wasn't giving out poetry to suit each individual instead of a one-size-fits-all verse (of course, I thought this poem DID fit everyone, but...) As a result, I ran off several Ogden Nash poems, including one on husband's suggested by my friend Kate (this was especially favored by the ladies). Naturally, everyone smiled and said "thank you," but I could tell most of them didn't really mean it...sort of like patting the little boy on the head when he interrupts a conversation. Some thought it was a nice gesture, and I hope some actually liked it. The swim coach was so moved that he began to recite poetry HE had memorized as a youngster! My favorite response, though, came from Clayton. Clayton is one of the student/athletes I tutor, all of whom got a copy of Frost's poem, and he was so enthused that he asked if I would make MORE copies so he could hand them out to other students on campus. Loaded down with 50 or so, he practically skipped off delivering verses; he included every one of his professors as well as some he'd had in previous years. Two of them actually emailed me to say how wonderful they thought his actions were. Now, I won't say that giving these to professors was a totally philanthropic venture on his part (he could merely have been taking sucking up to teachers to new heights), but he was truly excited to do so. I wandered throughout campus myself, dispensing pearls of Frost's wisdom, and I have to say that folks in the academic areas were far more interested than my first "clients." A professor of environmental science even made a few copies for herself and began handing them out to people in her department. The fever spread rapidly, it seems. That's what education is about, in my opinion. I read Frost's poem aloud to members of the men's basketball team (they were something of a captive audience) and explained the idea behind choices and being thoughtful in making choices. Not surprisingly, only a few of them had even heard the poem before...something that most of us read in high school was foreign to "modern" students; yet, they were singing along to indistinguishable (to me) lyrics coming from an iPod in the locker room. I chose to display a side of me that many had never before seen; whether or not that made any difference to them; I hope it did, just as all teachers hope their words stick. I don't know, but to me... it has made all the difference.


Post a Comment

<< Home