Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tupac and April

The poetry unit got off to a bad start. The tenth grade English class didn't respond any better to the poetry in the English text book, than they did to Romeo and Juliet. And they didn't like Romeo and Juliet.

Poor Romeo, all he wants to do is get laid and it costs him his life, I told them. But if it ignited a glimmer of interest we soon ran a muck in Shakespearean language, and the questions at the end of the unit and even Leonardo DiCaprio's impassioned plea on Venice Beach, "I am fortune's fool" did not rouse a love of the bard.

Onto April and poetry. Pablo Neruda told us how poetry changed his life as a teenager.We listened Lil Wade use the F word repeatedly in some rap song - everyone knew well except me.

No dice.

Kenya had his head down, Elma told me repeatedly it was the most boring thing we ever did.(Hard to get under the bar, the Romeo and Juliet unit set)
The dean was making frequent and more frequent visits to room. (We have a low keyed- talky dean who had group gripe sessions similar to the ones I remember as a teenager in the socialist camp my parents sent me to)

It didn't help.

And then I rode the bus home with math teacher.
Yeah I said math teacher. Long story worthy of its own blog entry.

In his sonorous deep Jamaican voice he suggested I look at Tupac -The rose that grew in concrete.

Now if this was a Hollywood movie- or if I was young skinny ingénue blown into the English class to save the world- that would have been the moment that changed everything.

But I am a chubby middle-age woman who looks a lot (or it least I think I do) like the the "overpaid" senior teacher who is under attack by our mayor and anti-union politicians around the country.

But Tupac, he did change everything. I was the cause of much mirth throughout the unit since I never did figure out how to say his name quite the right way.

The dean still needed to make frequent visits.

The room still looked like a war zone when the period was over.

But Elma and Kenya and 80 other adolescents (my class and 2 others) read and wrote poetry.
And talked about it. Sometimes even in the cafeteria.

Maybe April really isn't the cruelest month.

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