Monday, September 28, 2009

Onward to a Teacher's Life: A Poem Written in the Style of Peggy Noonan

You may want to read this Political Verses post, Sarah Palin: A Farewell Speech and Poem, before reading the rest of this post.

I think Sarah Palin may have poetic competition. She’s not the only conservative with a lyrical sensibility when it comes to written language. Peggy Noonan could certainly give the ex-governor of Alaska a run for her money in the “prose to poetry” category. Poor scribe that I am, I can’t turn a phrase or manipulate words with the delicate finesse that Noonan, a former speechwriter for the late President Reagan can.

Ms. Noonan is going to be leading a study group at Harvard University’s Institute for Politics this fall—CREATIVITY IN JOURNALISM, IN POLITICS AND IN LIFE: A Writer's Perspective.

When reading Noonan’s description of Session One of her study group, I realized the woman was truly a poet at heart. I broke up her prose paragraph into shorter lines—and VOILA!!!—found a free verse poem to read and savor.

Session One:
Introduction: An Overview:
Onward to a Writer’s Life

by Peggy Noonan

Who I am.
Where I am from.
What I have done.
My career.
Being a speechwriter for Ronald Reagan;
being young at CBS News
when it too was young,
and the Tiffany Network,
and carried itself like the greatest army in the world,
with spirit and elan and pride,
and not a small amount of conceit.
Being young
and suddenly a colleague of Walter Cronkite
“the most trusted man in America”;
writing a daily commentary show for Walter’s successor
as anchor of the Evening News,
Dan Rather.
Being taught to write by the men
who were taught to write for radio
by a gentleman named Ed Murrow,
the inventor of broadcast news.

Oh, if only I could pen poetry as lyrical as Peggy’s! The great speechwriter/political pundit inspired me to attempt my own free verse poem, Onward to a Teacher’s Life.

Onward to a Teacher’s Life
by Elaine Magliaro
(In the style of Peggy Noonan)

Who am I?
Where am I from?
What have I done?
Questions I ask myself.
My career.
Being an educator;
writing lesson plans,
writing letters home to parents,
writing on the blackboard.
Being an elementary grade teacher
when I was young,
when my students were much younger than I
and ran around the schoolyard at recess
like a herd of wild mustangs,
their nostrils flaring,
their sneakered hoofs kicking up dust.
Being young
and suddenly a colleague of older teachers
who watched Walter Cronkite,
“the most trusted man in America,”
on the Evening News.
Being taught to teach by older teachers
who had been taught to teach
by even older teachers,
who had read of Plato,
an old Greek philosopher and teacher,
who had lived long before
the invention of broadcast news.

For Your Further Reading & Pleasure
Peggy Noonan Goes To Harvard, The Haiku (Mediaite, 9/25/09)
Enjoy This Dramatic Reading Of Peggy Noonan's Harvard Study Group Syllabus (Huffington Post, 9/25/09)
Harvard Students: Stop Whatever You're Doing and Register for Peggy Noonan's Class, NOW (Gawker, 9/24/09)

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