National Poetry Month always comes with a special tradition at The White Mountain School. During the month of April each year, we dedicate the majority of Morning Meeting “readings” to the art of poetry.
Students and teachers alike share both work they admire and original pieces. Just last week, we were treated to a reading of selected poems by Shel Silverstein from French teacher (and Dad) Campbell Ainsworth. What happens when a room full of teenagers and adults takes time to slow down and enjoy some classic poems of their childhood?
As Campbell started to read, the room grew quiet and still. And then the giggling started. Few writers have the ability to reach all audiences the way that Shel’s work still does. Campbell’s reading made for an energizing and uplifting start to the day.
We also heard poems read in different languages by international students, poems that shared deeply moving messages and poems that were sung to us.
Last week, the whole school community also welcomed a special reading by nationally recognized poet Maudelle Driskell. Maudelle is the executive director of The Frost Place in Franconia, New Hampshire. She holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College and she has been published in Poetry magazine, the Kenyon Review, CAIRN, the New Orleans Review, All Shook Up, and The Made Thing. She is the recipient of the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, awarded by Poetry magazine and the Modern Language Association.
Maudelle shared a brand new, unpublished poem and also the poem that serves as the namesake for her book, Talismans. You can read reviews of Talismans and order the book here.
This morning Chantal ‘17 performed the following original poem, Colours of the World, along with Choi ‘17 and Becky Beno, Faculty.
Colours of the World
We live in a brown and white world
There are no grey areas
That’s why my light skinned friend
Daughter of a white man and brown woman
That’s why my light skin friend
Product of an interracial misunderstanding
That’s why my light skin friend is confused and abused by her physical qualities.
Wishing she represented struggle OR privilege
So she had learned to be content
Content with her privileged struggle
With her long nappy hair
With her oreo looking family that loves her endlessly
I on the other hand have learned to be content with struggle
Parents both washed in deep brown melanin
Me, the offspring that has been coated mercilessly with doubt to push me down and confidence to keep me afloat
I have learned to be content with pressure
I am the offspring of paleskins
Born into open doors and limitless skies with easy streets.
I am the offspring of paleskins
forever bearing the baggage of centuries past
I am the offspring of paleskins,
born into privilege but born out of my parents’ sacrifice, too
I have learned to expect ambiguity.
I have long straight hair
I am not brown or white
Like your friend,
Am I that nonexistent grey area?
given two more layers than the whites
five d less than the browns
I am yellow
I have learned to be content with being the grey area
As a human in today’s society, I have learned to sit back and just say WOW.
Thank you to all of this year’s National Poetry Month organizers and contributors.