Whew! I'm going to sleep so much better tonight.

When you begin digging through your elementary school poetry file (see previous post if you're confused), which you might actually keep if you had a complete career as a writer and retired at age 20, like I did . . . you come across interesting things. So I feel the need to clarify a few things now. First, the poem in the previous post was not from 4th grade, but was instead from 3rd, or perhaps even 2nd (?) grade. Because after I posted it I came across another beauty that was most definitely from 4th grade.

How can I be sure? Because it was written in cursive, the 4th grade technological leap forward. And it was written in free verse, infinitely more sophisticated than my previous work. I remembered this poem very well, because -- actually -- I have a confession to make concerning it. Now is as good a time as any, I suppose. I loved loved loved my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Spackman. I have a particularly fond memory of her standing at the blackboard, swinging her hips in a strangely mesmerizing way to "Love's Theme" (an early 70's pre-disco instrumental spectacular involving a lot of synthesized violins. Remember? Very popular on am radio) when I showed up early for class one day. Mrs. Spackman loved loved loved my poem, "Lemon Shiver." She made a huge deal of it. Actually, she made a huge POSTER of it and hung it in the 4th-5th grade pod, where it stayed all year. She copied it on this pink paper and distributed it to the entire class. She complimented me repeatedly and profusely on the magnificent image I had conjured of a "Lemon Shiver" -- what a remarkable turn of phrase for such a young girl! I basked in the compliments (probably because they made up a little for the indignity of having no horse-drawing skills) and smiled serenely. But inside, there was mostly discomfort because . . . well, because . . . it was never my turn of phrase!

I stole the phrase "Lemon Shiver" from my Betty Crocker Girls' and Boys Cookbook, which, during elementary school, I spent entire summers studying. And of course, being a young poet, I was perfectly capable of recognizing an elegant turn of phrase and then lifting it for my own work, and I admit I did so and then stood up proudly to take the glory.

I do have to say that Mrs. Spackman's praise and utter belief in my abilities did much to give me the courage to press on in my artistic pursuits, and I have often thought fondly of her and thanked her for it. But I do feel a bit twinge-y in the guilt department whenever I think of the crowning achievement of my 4th grade career, "Lemon Shiver."

I suppose it's a little like Rousseau felt when everyone found out he traced his famous tiger out of a children's coloring book. But then, he's Rousseau, so I hope he hasn't spent too much time losing sleep over it.


Jake and Chelsea said...

another fantastic blog entry by mom.

and even if you stole the phrase, you can always make up for it by saying, "no, it was just a literary allusion to this other text..."

susan m hinckley said...

Dang! I wish I'd thought of that before I confessed. And it takes a pretty spectacular mind to make meaningful literary allusions to the Betty Crocker Boys & Girls' Cookbook. Intriguing idea for the future . . .

april said...

great story, susan! i'm with you i think it takes some genius to use to lift that word from the book and create it into something else. mrs. spackman does sound like a great teacher too.

hey, i only had russ' work email (what's up with that), and so i asked him to send me all your emails.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin