It Is Time To Write Poetry
Another Teaching Event

There I was treating Ginger for one of her medical idiosyncrasies. She had spent several days at Purdue Veterinary Hospital, which was her third visit in two years. On this hospitalization, she was put in their ICU to feed her intravenously since she hadn’t eaten for several days. They shaved her front legs for the IVs. For some reason, after eating intravenously for a while, Ginger decided that she would eat regular food.

However, Ginger started to lick one of the legs where they had the IV. I asked her why she licked that leg and not the other. She said that she didn’t know. However, her left leg was licked so much that it had gotten infected. I was in the process of removing the old dressing and replacing it with a new one, on which I had put a canine salve to treat the infection.

While being Ginger’s stand-in vet, I watched Sarah Kay doing another of her recitations of a couple of her poems. Kay is from a different generation of poets…I newer generation.

Sarah Kay

During most of my life, I was used to either reading poetry or having someone read it but not acting out the poem. This is Robert Frost reading a poem at JFK’s inauguration.

Robert Frost reading a poem

Amid trying to switch the dressing on Ginger’s leg, I watched Kay recite a couple of poems. It was then that I had one of my eureka moments, which I love. I recalled an essay I wrote to Ti Ti about a dozen of my favorite poems, which I memorized while in high school.

Therefore, this essay is a teaching moment for my three granddaughters, Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty. COVID and the coup have created a new normal for them, along with all the children throughout the world.

My assignment is for each of them to write a poem about how they view the world they now live. The length or style of their poetry isn’t important. However, what is critical is that their poems reflect how their world has changed and how they cope with this new reality. In addition, each of them is to write their poetry in both English and their native language.

To personalize their creative ability, I would like their parents to take a picture of them composing their poetry. Then their parents can do a video of them reciting their work in both languages. Finally, as with all my teaching assignments for my college classes, this assignment has a due date. For Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty, their due date is one month hence. That phrase is my play on the words from the movie, The Green Knight. The Green Knight gave Sir Gawain his due date.

Just over a year and a half ago, I went to Myanmar to visit my family. We went on our family tour together during my winter break from teaching. Interestingly, Moh Moh taught me while I was on winter break about her family history.

I remember Moh Moh telling me about when she was a young child during the 8888-Uprising. She would go to bed at night wondering whether there would be enough food for breakfast for her and her younger brother and sister.

During that trip, I mentioned that I liked the way Ti Ti named me PaPa Al. I thought it was cute. Moh Moh continued teaching me quietly. She said that I was the only grandfather that Ti Ti had. Moh Moh’s quiet teaching moments still ring loudly in my ears.

My granddaughters’ assignment is to pen their memories of this time, which parallels the time of the 8888-Uprising with one additional, the chaos and concern created by COVID-19. Each of my granddaughters will be featured in three essays a month hence. People in America and in Myanmar will be able to enjoy their work.

This video is Sarah Kay’s poetic presentation that I was watching while caring for Ginger.

Sarah Kay performs “Ghost Ship” from “No Matter the Wreckage” -