What the poet does

The famous poet visits the classroom –
It could be any famous poet,
any classroom,
but it is this Poet Laureate,
Juan Felipe Herrera,
and it is our classroom –
of adults from so many countries.

His words are beautiful –
everyone knows that.
His words are beautiful
and his words are meaningful.
His words have surrounded
the longings of the heart,
challenged injustice,
lifted up the most vulnerable,
spoken truth.

The poet is a celebrity of words,
but I pay attention to 

what the poet does.

Juan Felipe eats our food –
deep fried pakoras, red yam balls,
tortilla, Russian bread.
He receives our gifts,
one of these is a soccer ball.
He listens
to our songs and our poems
and he plays his harmonica to them,
and he takes lines from them
to create in the living air of the room –
new poems.

Juan Felipe is a poet,
a very famous poet
He is a laureate
because he makes the poetry in us.

(This was written when I realized that the poem “Juan Felipe Herrera visits” did not tell all of the story. Of course, nothing will. The story goes on.)

The 21st U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera visits a classroom of international English language learners at the Adult Learning Center in Nashua on April 12, 2018. (Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

Juan Felipe Herrera  The 21st Poet Laureate of the United States visited a class of international English language learners at the Adult Learning Center in Nashua, New Hampshire, April 12, 2018 under the auspices of the New Hampshire Humanities Council, for which I have the honor often of working.(Photo by Elizabeth Frantz)

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2 Responses to What the poet does

  1. Nathaniel C. Emens says:

    This is what it is All About. We are here to help others. Amen.

  2. Maren says:

    I could not agree with you more!!!

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