The Beard of Poetry

(This post also appears on my Frog Hollow School blog about teaching writing.)

Last week my friend Joshua Gottlieb-Miller came to my Friday class as a visiting poet. It was pretty exciting. The kids had great questions for him. Some highlights:

“Are you a famous poet like Robert Frost?”

“I am zero percent famous.”

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

“Are you a famous poet like Charles Darwin?”

“I may be a more famous poet than Charles Darwin.”

“Do you write poems about nature, or reality?”

“Both. Sometimes I start a poem with nature, and then it needs some reality so I put in a telephone or something. You know?”

(Rapt stares and nods.)

They were amazed to find out that poets can work at Trader Joe’s (Josh says he is one of two staff poets at his branch), and that you can write poetry about recycling (Josh has an entire manuscript of recycling-related poems). Mostly, however, they were fascinated by Josh’s beard. And it is true, he has an impressive one.

When Josh was leaving, one of the girls called out, “You’ll always be famous to us! What was your name again?” Classic.

After Josh left, they wrote him a collaborative poem, each student adding a line as we went around the circle. They managed to put Josh, basketball, beards, garbage, pink fluffy unicorns, squash, and luna moths in one poem. Pretty coherently. And they wrote it in the shape of a beard and called it “The Beard of Poetry.”

This week, they waxed on for a long time about how much they liked his teeth. They also decided they want to memorize one of his poems. Random poet-face objectification aside, I think introducing Frog Hollow to a living poet was a success.

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