Try your hand at writing an ode (a poem of praise) or an elegy (a poem of loss) to a mentor. In The Odyssey, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus whom Odysseus placed in charge of his son Telemachus and of his palace when he went off to the Trojan War. The personal name Mentor has been adopted in English as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague.
Consider who your mentors have been; write an ode or elegy to them and their commitment, energy, enthusiasm, and other characteristics. Or, to whom have you been a mentor? Who needs mentoring, and how, and why? See if you can write your poem embracing some of these elements.
I worked with a teacher early in my career who was THE best teacher I’ve ever known. All linen suits and Northeast accent, she of the pointy-toed pumps, copper-colored bob and brisk manner made me feel like a kid in a wide world where things could yet be learned, and dull, unsupportive administration was just a minor hurdle on an adventurous trail. Scholarly, brilliant, and much older than me, Susan remained someone I emulated the rest of my time in the classroom. Her junior high students, who made it a practice to respect no one at all, held Ms. Goins in awe – as did I. Here’s to you, Susan Goins, gentlewoman, scholar. May you have stars in your crown, wherever you are.
Ode to Susan
Crisp diction crackles from distant classroom
An authoritative alto intones
“Words. Have. Power.” Each rising inflection
Enunciated. Dutiful students
Copy out each word, likely underlined.
As I smile and turn back to my grading.
They don’t understand, these newborn scholars
The weight of a word in potentia –
The energy coiled in a compliment
Disparagement’s draining distortions –
But she does.
‘Perspicacious’ is her favorite word
Persistent, curious, bright, she offers
To my school day jokes, anecdotes, an ear,
Calm competence in the face of challenge,
Her belief. My bedrock, firm foundation,
Each shining word a stair by which I climb.
Buffy Silverman is hosting the Almost Solstice Poetry Friday today. Enjoy.