Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


Publication Date: 2007-08-29

Kip Zegers says, "I'm readying to return for my 24th year at Hunter College H.S. in New York City. I'm a
poet, have 7 small press books, and here's my
back to school poem, which I thought might give support to fellow workers.

You've taken my freedom and aborted
my plans a boy said, in this class
I finally felt comfortable to speak
my mind she said, I will grow up
the smallest boy wrote,
when everyone else was writing jokes
on a card at the end of the year.

They will betray you for each other,
I was told, and it is true. That they
expect to be able to trust, that there are
things of value that are unknown
to them and they have not heard the news,
that they have processed much of what
you thought they did not hear,
that they believe deeply in the greatest return for the least effort, and will write
essays that make you gasp at the thinking,
and the play of words, it's all true.

If you have done your job
some of them will never forget you.
You will never forget some of them.
Most will remember other things.
What you want to give
is often not what they came to get.
Your task is to connect those verbs.

The boy who wrote poems would not
write a single story and so failed his class,
a girl who made a spoken voice appear on paper heard the shy, angry kid say, "that
was so good I couldn't stop listening," and
a young man said, "I did no work for six years and when I got to college I found I knew how to take a class and the other
students had no clue," he was lighting
a cigarette as he spoke, his smile
was difficult to distinguish from smoke.

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