|Hirsch, Georgia Court/Bookstore1 and Nezhukumatathil|
|Hopper's "Early Sunday Morning"|
"Self-portrait," a poem in which Hirsch chronicles the dichotomy that lies within, also struck a chord. It reads, in part:
As a teacher, Aimee's practice is to participate in her class' creative writing assignments. One assignment called upon each student to write a poem about a phobia. (A handy list is available at phobialist.com.) Given Nezhukumatathil's name, hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, or fear of long words, seems an inspired choice. Her poem goes, in part:
"On the first day of classes, I secretly beg
my students Don’t be afraid of me. I know
my last name on your semester schedule
is chopped off or probably misspelled—
or both. I can’t help it. I know the panic
of too many consonants rubbed up
against each other, no room for vowels
to fan some air into the room of a box
marked Instructor..... "
The humor and openness in Nehzhukumatathil's poem made me want to be one of her students trying my hand at her craft. To read the poem in its entirety, click here.
Aimee's work also introduced me to the concept of found poems. Just as a visual artist might recycle metal into a sculpture or incorporate scraps of scribbled-on paper into a collage, she takes joy in turning random comments into poetry.
"The comment section of any website is 'the worst of humanity,'" she said, as she launched into a hilarious poem culled from one star reviews of the Great Wall of China on TripAdvisor. Alas, I couldn't find the poem online to share here. Instead, here is an excerpt from "Dear Amy Nehzookammyatootill." a found poem composed entirely of emails from high school students asked to compare one of Aimee's poetry collections to Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
"If I were to ask you a question about your book
and sum it up into one word it would be, Why?...
You are very young to be a poet. I also like how your poems take
up an entire page (it makes our reading assignment go faster).
In class we spend so much time dissecting your poems
and then deeply analyzing them. I think I like Walt Whitman
better than you, but don't take offense -- you are very good too!"
For the complete poem, click here.
As her parting words, Aimee shared a Mary Oliver quote posted above her desk for inspiration. "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Words to truly live by.
Thanks to Bookstore1 and Florida Studio Theatre for sponsoring PoetryLife Week-end.