THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY

THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY
April 12, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month Issue 1


National Poetry Month is finally here! Did you order your free NPM Poster from the Academy of American Poets?

National Poetry Month 2011 is extra-special for me. Life in Me like Grass on Fire: Love Poems hits the shelves today.


The book was my first editing gig, a project for the Maryland Writers Association.

This month, I'm going to introduce you to some of Maryland best poets -- many of whom are contributors to Life in Me. All of the poems are classroom-appropriate. Some may be for high schoolers. Others will work in elementary schools.

Today's writing prompt is for high schoolers. You'll find it at the end of the post.

I've come to know Dennis Kirschbaum's poetry through the anthology. Nostalgia is one of the themes of Dennis work, but he always manages to look at the past without rose-colored glasses.

Dennis' poem X-Men speaks to the trappings of childhood. We understand the speaker's youthful admiration for the Fantastic Four, but also how they help the speaker navigate his way into adulthood.

X-Men
by Dennis Kirschbaum

John’s “Avengers” numbered 16 to 127 formed the core
so we kept the collection at his house.
I was sucked in through the Fantastic Four, whose stony,
aloof, orange Thing spoke to me at a gamma level.
Iron Man and the giant, emerald Hulk,
hid tender emotions beneath impenetrable metal
and impervious hide.
Tapping superhuman powers, I bought hundreds.
I earned a small fortune, bringing the daily “Sun”
and spent it in 25 cent increments,
flying to Jeppe’s Comic World in the summer heat,
burning like the Human Torch, and cooling down in the rare air
conditioned basement where a crisp stack waited in a milk crate
with my name on it.
Each was read once, then catalogued on blue-lined
index cards, and carefully protected in special plastic
that could withstand water, extinguish fire,
and repel radioactive spider venom.
By the time I left for college, the boxes filled half the room.
Later, I returned to find John had sold every one.
Mortally wounded by the Abomination and his Forces of Evil,
I remembered my training. I didn’t cry.
Just a grimace, as I slunk from the scene,
tattered shirt clinging to my swelling green skin,
purple pants stretched, ripped,
and blown apart at the knees.

Posted with the permission of Dennis Kirschbaum.

Dennis Kirschbaum is the associate vice president for Campus Advancement at Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. He runs, bakes and writes a poetry blog, The Steaming Cup, from his home in Washington Grove, Maryland.

HS Writing Prompt:

After reading "X-Men," have students choose a favorite super-hero. Real heroes need not apply. It has to be a fictional character. Someone with powers.

Next, ask students to free-write any memories they have connected with that character.

Once the memories are written down, ask them to write what aspects of the character appealed to them as little kids.

Enough brainstorming! Time to write. I was always partial to Storm.


Who gets the honor of hosting Poetry Friday on the first day of National Poetry Month? It's Amy at the Poem Farm. Stop by the farm and enjoy all of the NPM posts and projects.

7 comments:

Heidi Mordhorst said...

A superhuman start to NaPoMo!!! I'm not a comic-book fan, but Dennis's poem reminded me of how my friend Dori and I lovingly catalogued our collection of books and opened a lending library. It wasn't as popular as we'd hoped, perhaps because we decided to charge a fee, but that impulse to "round up" our reading experience is familiar.

Looking forward to more "Life in Me" fires this month. Thanks, Laura!

Amy LV said...

Congratulations on LIFE IN ME LIKE GRASS ON FIRE...I hope you enjoy celebrating today!

As for superheroes. Wonder Woman. I could go for that spin change! A.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Heidi and Amy. The heart of this kind of poem is asking why the comics were important -- or Heidi, your plans for a lending library. What makes that stay with you.

Amy -- I'm laughing about Wonder Woman. Her new outfit is all over the Internet. She's got pants! But that bustier can't be easy to run in.

Janet said...

Does Mighty Mouse qualify? Or Underdog, a true poet:

"When Polly's in trouble I am not slow
It's hip hip hip and away I go!"

Ahh, memories... Thank you for returning me to my youth! :-)

Author Amok said...

Hi, Janet. I'm cracking up. And thinking of the Underdog episode of Scrubs.

The shows you mentioned were both favorites at our house growing up. Glad you enjoyed this post.

Tara said...

First - congratulations on your book! Next, thank you for the poem and the teaching idea - this will open up a whole new (and fun!) area of poetry to explore.

Mary Lee said...

Somehow I knew they were going to be sold in the end. Childhood dreams always seem to go "poof" somehow or another as we grow old...