In Alan Buckley’s recent review of Hannah Lowe’s Costa Prize winning collection The Kids — read it here — he quotes a poem about Lowe’s old English teacher:
[ …] All summer, you waited for September:
to be back again in the tattered classroom,
the tables pushed together, and him at the top
like a doting father, or a bridegroom,
or like God, if God wore Doc Marten shoes
and a silver sleeper in one ear — not the God
you didn’t believe in, but one who believed in you.
— from John I Pink Hummingbird
This got us thinking. How many of us had similar experiences with school teachers who passed on to us their love of books, love of poetry, and love of language? Carol Ann Duffy writes about this too, in her poem ‘In Mrs Tilscher’s Class’.
This was better than home. Enthralling books.
The classroom glowed like a sweet shop.
Sugar paper. Coloured shapes. Brady and Hindley
faded, like the faint, uneasy smudge of a mistake.
Mrs Tilscher loved you. Some mornings, you found
she’d left a good gold star by your name.
The scent of a pencil slowly, carefully, shaved.
So here’s a call out to all poets. Do you have fond memories of a teacher at school who helped inspire and nurture your love of poetry, or who supported you in learning the craft of writing? Maybe an English teacher or a Drama teacher, or someone who ran extra-curricular activities involving poetry, just for the love of it. And have you written something, like one of the poems above, to commemorate or appreciate them? Email the editor with your stories and anecdotes (and poems, if you have them) and we’ll see if we can put an article together in praise of people who started us off on the poetry journey.