Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kevin Ireland Poetry Competition - runner up poem by Siobahn Harvey

The teacher’s teachers
by Siobhan Harvey

Drawing out clock-stopping days of old, their lessons
impressed upon their students’ memories, as chalk on
blackboard or pen on paper, learned rote and handed down
the generations along with division, subtraction
and ball and stick: all that labour as unforgiving
as cane, buckled belt or worn-out tennis pump;
all that ancestry, like quill and ink, readily dismissed today.

Yet in our electronic new age where font purifies scribble,
text destroys talk, and the teacher’s teachers are laid, like poems
by Shelley, Coleridge and Keats, to rest, something’s lost.

The teacher’s teachers who abandoned everything
for communes, free-love, free-range kids and writing
reams of cadent, exquisite words; who remembers them?

Who cares for those whose sabbaticals built barricades
at Bastion Point, whose songs of protests carried as far
as ’81, back to Rugby Park and Molesworth Street?

Or those named after goddesses, who became
feminists at Otago and Harvard, wrote books about
the mutilation of women, repaired to parliament
where they outlawed genetic modification and ended
their days shoplifting in Porirua; who remembers them? 

From ethereal, empty classrooms, the forgotten look down
on us, puzzled by our ‘no winners, no losers’, resource rich, child-
centred, lifelong learner, global citizen, generously budgeted epoch.

Bells ring. Still the forgotten wait for us to look up to them
and observe their versatility and their extremes. 

Full details on winner and runners-up on blog yesterday

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