Friday, April 13, 2007

Poetry Friday -- Did I Miss Anything?

Don't you love Poetry 180? The idea of a poem a day for high schoolers, to be read over the announcements, is brilliant.

Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate, is brilliant.

I have both volumes of the poems because I can just about guarantee that if I open either one anywhere, I can find an accessible and spot-on poem. Which is what I did today.

Today's poem goes out to anyone who struggles sometimes to keep up with life, with (school) work, with parenting, with blogging (reading and/or writing), and with all the rest of everything that gets dumped on the plate you're trying desperately to keep balanced. It's for all those times when we wanted to be there, but just couldn't make it.

(the whole poem is here)

by Tom Wayman

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours

Everything. I gave an exam worth
40 percent of the grade for this term
and assigned some reading due today
on which I’m about to hand out a quiz
worth 50 percent


Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur?

Everything. Contained in this classroom
is a microcosm of human experience
assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place

And you weren’t here


  1. Mary Lee,

    I think Poetry 180 was a great idea and is a wonderful resource for teachers. I have both poetry volumes, too.

  2. What a great poem! I should copy it for every time a student asks me "did I miss anything?" (which, from that side of the aisle, can be an infuriating question!)


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