Too cool for school slam poetry


The night before last I attended the slam poetry competition at my son’s school.
It was awesome.
The kids were awesome.

There’s nothing more inspiring than being in a room with people who have a passion for words and who let those words out. Huge kudos to Mark Buzolic, the Varsity College teacher who got this idea on its feet and has made it happen now for three years. He’s a big inspiration to his students and leads by example with writing and performing poetry. Thanks also to local poet and performer Louise Moriarty who helped widen out the world view on where poetry might lead you.

The theme was “too cool for school” and the poetry went to some pretty interesting places with that as a starting point. I went home with my head buzzing.

It’s been a lot of years since I wrote any poetry, but I woke up the next morning with the first eight lines of a poem, on the theme, that really needed to be slammed.
The rest just kind of followed.

So, here it is. *

A problem with school
Don’t ask me a question,‘cause you won’t like my answer,
Yes, sir, no, sir, yeah, I got a plan, sir –
Sliding through school by the seat of my pants, sir.
Not learning, just burning with frustration like a cancer
And ridden by yearning for sensations that’ll answer
Why we’ve hidden all the meaning in a puzzle that won’t fit;
Why we’re bidden to wear muzzles so our teacher won’t get bit.
Plus, the problem you’re posing’s not the part that needs solution,
It’s your model of mendacity that calls for revolution.
It’s the certainty of surliness when authority is questioned,
As you tug the leash that lashes our attention to your lesson.
Your didactic pedagogy’s like a bullet to my brain,
Your regurgitated data runs like refuse down the drain.
I’m not learning, just rehashing –
Aimed at earning, that’s the fashion.
“Get on track, with the agenda!”
Disgorge facts – return to sender.
‘Cause my passion and my thinking’s not required,
Just neuron-shrinking, soulless, uninspired
Standardisation, in our schools and in our nation:
“Learn this data, toe the line, get a job and you’ll be fine,
Work from 9 to 5 and then – repeat, repeat, repeat again.”
Drink a beer, watch the screen, numb your brain. It is obscene.
Trudging through a slow accretion of life’s tedious secretions,
Piling up the lies they’ve told me,
All the ties and binds that hold me.
Parents, teachers, priests and leaders,
Taste the pap they try to feed us:
“Be quiet! Be attentive! Be upstanding! Be retentive!
Be obedient and passive!
Take your medicine!” It’s massive
Doses of a numbing poppy,
A barbiturate for happy hordes of factory slaves,
Worked from school into our graves.
“Never question! Don’t complain! Sit up straight! Do it again!”
Should I be a lotus eater, stuck in amber like a fly?
A bloated bottom-feeder, mucking out their stinking sty?
A corporate dream-believer, buying slices of the lie,
And then pass and work and rut and spend and gorge until I die?
If that’s the dream you’re selling, then I don’t want to buy.
And all the lies you’re telling can’t convince me I should try
To play the game, and be the same, and lie and cry and die.
So it’s time for the rhyme that calls your paradigm a crime.
‘Cause I’m sick of the hating, all the waiting, anticipating
That it’s gonna get better when it only gets worse
So instead of a letter, I’ve said it with a verse,
Like a twisted vendetta, tied up with a curse:
Take your learning and your earning –
Shove it where the sun don’t shine.
I can think and read and love and learn with passion, I’ll be fine.
And while you’re ticking boxes
And banging square pegs in round holes,
I’ll be living life outside the box and nurturing my soul.

*being too cool for school does not, necessarily, reflect the opinions of the management, you know what I’m saying? But I had fun constructing a slam for the affirmative side in the notional ‘are you too cool for school’ debate.

So, written any poetry lately, or, you know, in the last decade or so?


One thought on “Too cool for school slam poetry”

  1. Appreciate those comments Louise. Poetry Slam night takes student writing into another dimension. I have published all the poems from the night in a hardback titled Spoken Heroics. Let me know how I can get a copy to you.

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