Poetry Stand (Drive-By Poetry)

The American Scholar:

One of the students sticks his or her head out the passenger window and serenades — or accosts — the startled pedestrian with some passionately recited lines by Walt Whitman or Pablo Neruda. The kid pops back in, rolls up the window, and the van takes off in search of the next victim.

Drive-by poetry seemed like an exercise in bad manners and an embarrassment to all concerned, and I wanted no part of it. Rich mentioned that I was free to plan my own event, but I was never very good at organizing field trips. I was cursed with a lack of the field trip gene, along with the papier-mâché gene. My classrooms tend to be devoid of decoration, and we never leave them. As a writing teacher, I’m concerned with rearranging the mental furniture of my students — at least, that’s what I’ve always told myself. For the last five years I’ve taught juveniles in a lockdown facility, where field trips are happily — for me at least — off the table.