We’re kicking off the school year by introducing to students this lovely thing we call a “mentor text.” We look closely at a piece of good writing, observe its various moves and strategies, and then write our own piece of good writing inspired by the mentor text, mimicking as best we can the moves of the master. In this case, with our IB Juniors, we’re looking at a poem by Mary Ann Larson called “Random Autobiography.” Philosophically speaking, I think that if it’s a worthwhile thing for students to be doing, it’s a worthwhile thing for me to do as well–as long as I am not yet buried in paper. I am not yet buried in paper. What follows are the results of my labor.
Another Random Autobiography
(After Mary Ann Larson)
I was unexpected,
a surprise, my mother says,
not a mistake.
I’ve held a dying dog,
And I kissed my dying father.
In the fourth grade, I heard Elton John
and my life changed.
I’ve lost teeth, lots of teeth.
I’ve lost girlfriends.
My heart broke the first
time in the sixth grade.
It’s happened since but
I’ve not been counting.
I’ll tell you sincerely:
McLoughlin Blvd. is more of a
wasteland now than it was
when I was a kid,
even though much of
the neighborhood is
improved, the parks, the roads,
the trolley trail.
Once, I was blind,
bandaged after an eye surgery
and for one year only
I wore glasses.
Once, and only once,
I ate a whole ball of wasabi
because I didn’t know what it was.
It was my birthday.
Just like Mary Ann Larson,
I rolled a Pinto, or rather,
was rolled in a Pinto.
The woman who would be my wife
was driving. We walked away, too.
My life of crime: I shoplifted candy bars
and snuck into movie theaters and drank
wine coolers before I was legal.
My dad let me wash down a raw oyster
with a swig of beer. I will testify
to raw oysters with a beer chaser.
I’ve been scared and scarred by The Excorcist
and by religion generally speaking.
I’ve felt the sharp pick-ax pain
of a broken collar-bone
when my brother fell on top of me
in a game of keep-away Frisbee.
All the writing I did as a child
I’ve got stored in boxes.
People have been kind and
I have been lucky.
I have been known to put mustard
on a piece of chocolate.
I teach and sing and write,
therefore, I am licensed,
armed and dangerous
in the best possible way.
5 thoughts on “#139: Another Random Autobiography”
Love it, Michael.
Can you send me the Mary Ann Larson poem? I’d like to try it.
I’m starting a new poetry class tomorrow — on form. With a guy named John Morrison at the Attic Workshop.
Michelle D. Williams | Paper and Pixel LLC | 503-762-2524
>________________________________ > From: michael jarmer >To: email@example.com >Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 5:08 PM >Subject: [New post] #139: Another Random Autobiography (After Mary Ann Larson) > > > > WordPress.com >michaeljarmer posted: “We’re kicking off the school year by introducing to students this lovely thing we call a “mentor text.” We look closely at a piece of good writing, observe it’s various moves and strategies, and then write our own piece of good writing inspired by the me” >
Hey Michelle, there’s a link in my little introductory paragraph that takes you to a pdf version of the Larson poem. Cheers.
Michael this is stunningly wonderful. Have a great day. much love to you
love this … i use a similar exercise for my public speaking class in a community college and a prison program through the college. i read the students Mary Ann Larson’s poem and have them have a go at it. I find the results stunningly refreshing and beautiful. Thank you for sharing yours.
Thank you for visiting, Patty!