A poem a day in April from Rutgers English PhD students and friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Tragedy and Comedy

In seventh grade we had to write a book of poems,
Each one in a different style, or using a different device.

One of mine was a shape poem, a tragedy mask,
Because I liked to act. I sketched the outlines

And started writing, about masks, and hidden identities,
And actors hiding their true selves. It was all

Very dark. I kept writing until I filled the mask,
Even its ribbons. Shape was more important than sense.

When I got the book back, on that page, my teacher
Had written something like, Very thoughtful.

And to this day I have been embarrassed for myself
That she read the shaped words for their sense,

And thought those thoughts were my thoughts.
(Even then I knew they were overwrought.)

And just now I remembered all this. How hilarious
That she took the words shaped as a mask for my voice.


  1. I can't believe your teacher wrote on your book, FIRST of all. I mean, WTF.
    Great line break "it was all/ Very dark"
    and LOLZ to being young and writing poems and having teachers that just don't get it.

  2. the persona who wrote the mask poem

    but also this persona's teacher could have been like "what a thoughtful use of this form"!

  3. I think what this poem is doing is very new to me.. but reading it (now, several times) really transports me to somewhere in the past.. as though I was the person(a) remembering..? I think the persona poem captures a part of our personalities we might say..? but, to me this poem really captures an almost palpable sociocultural dynamic ..I want to say.. I found myself remembering something of my childhood.. teachers and the oddness of it all.. like staring into the ignorance of the wise? or the childhood version of paradox.. something that I knew too "even then" ..I think I kept reading to draw the memory back in again..