Monday, July 02, 2007
Teaching Metaphors. Nathan Graziano. ( sunnyoutside PO BOX 441429 Somerville, Mass. 02144) http://www.sunnyoutside.com
Sunnyoutside, a creative and prolific small press based in Somerville, Mass. has released a new book by poet Nate Graziano. Graziano is a mainstay of their list and for good reason. His work has the flashes of insight, irony, and humor as well as accessibility that makes for an engaging read. Graziano has been a high school English teacher since 1997 and has penned a book of poetry about his experiences. Graziano writes: “Teaching metaphors has literally taken me ten years to write. It is a mosaic of the students and colleagues I’ve worked with in the various schools I taught. These poems are not based solely on any individuals, rather they’re imaginative amalgams. These poems are also not a picturesque depiction of the world of education, but I hope they’re honest—good and bad.”
The book is divided into two sections: the “Student Body” and “The Faculty” I found “The Faculty” section the most compelling. Here Graziano captures the eccentrics, the burnouts, the ‘types” that we find in any faculty. In the poem “Burnout”, a gone-to-seed teacher brutalizes his students with his time-worn film strips and sepia-tinged pop quizzes that he has given to generations of students.
“The students’ heads drop to the desks
like metal balls down greased chutes,
etherized by The Burnout’s filmstrip
and the sustained beeps between frames.
A sedated voice from a scratchy recording
talks of Nero’s orders for matricide,
a question on the multiple-choice pop quiz
The Burnout will give following the filmstrip.
It’s the same quiz the students’ parents
took twenty years ago when they slept
through Western History with The Burnout,
the man rumored to keep a silver flask
beside the fiddle in his desk drawer.
And in “The Devastation of Donuts” Graziano views the cycles of the faculty of the school through donuts and his “glazed” and jaded eyes:
“On Fridays The Administration” springs/ for coffee and donuts in the Teacher’s Lounge/ Most of the Faculty attempts to attend/…despite the fact that most of our bodies/have been devastated by donuts/ The younger faculty slim and wrinkle-free, / and still brimming with college theory, / chocolate-gazed, unfazed… It wasn’t long ago I stood in fresh shoes./…I n those days, I was more forgiving of my frame/ before the donuts took hold,/ latched to my bones and refused to let go.”