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The Monday Poem > This Has Always Been Our Active Shooter Drill by Jason Reynolds, July 31

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message 1: by Joan (last edited Jul 31, 2018 06:12AM) (new)

Joan It’s not my turn so feel free to delete, but I just had to share this with someone:

It’s an “unpublished work by today’s poets” from The Poem-A-Day app of poets.org.

This Has Always Been Our Active Shooter Drill
Jason Reynolds

(for Stephon Clark’s grandmother)

shave your face. a haircut
even. kiss your kids. your
partner. your parents. tell
them you listened. you kissed
their asses like you were
taught. kissed their asses and
still. walk. or run. don’t
matter. glue your identification
to your forehead. wrap yourself
in the flag. hand over heart. hit
the high note. hide your slang
under your tongue. delete
your profile. scrub the net. clean
your blood. prepare your body
for peepholes no one
will ever peer into.



Jason Reynolds is the author of For Every One and Sunny, both published by Simon & Schuster this year. He lives in Washington, D.C.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/h...


message 2: by Joan (new)

Joan How do poets get the reader jazzed up using just words and rhythm? I felt the tension even before I grasped the meaning...

And what a great closing couplet


message 3: by Faith (new)

Faith | 589 comments Jason Reynolds also wrote Long Way Down written in verse. He is the writer of wonderful books aimed at the middle grade market. I am way beyond that age group, but I love his books.


message 4: by Joan (new)

Joan Faith wrote: "Jason Reynolds also wrote Long Way Down written in verse. He is the writer of wonderful books aimed at the middle grade market. I am way beyond that age group, but I love his books."

Thanks for telling me - is there any middle grade book you especially liked? I’d like to try one and perhaps send one to my 9 yr old grandson.


message 5: by Faith (new)

Faith | 589 comments Joan wrote: "Faith wrote: "Jason Reynolds also wrote Long Way Down written in verse. He is the writer of wonderful books aimed at the middle grade market. I am way beyond that age group, but I l..."

I've liked everything I have read by him so far, but Ghost, about a young running team member, might be appropriate for 9. The Boy in the Black Suit and When I Was the Greatest are probably for someone older.


message 6: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11562 comments Mod
That's ok Joan; the 30th July slot was empty anyway. This was an interesting poem; it really made me think. At first glance, I think it's about identity and how we have many different personas, one for our family, our friends and our jobs.


message 7: by Joan (new)

Joan Alannah- I’m glad you found it interesting- the poem shook me to my core.

I had checked to be sure this week was open.


message 8: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 66 comments That is a very powerful poem. Thank you.


message 9: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7374 comments Mod
Alannah wrote: "That's ok Joan; the 30th July slot was empty anyway. This was an interesting poem; it really made me think. At first glance, I think it's about identity and how we have many different personas, one..."

Yes, thanks so much for filling the slot Joan!! :) you are very welcome as is anyone to take an open week. Thanks for helping to keep the Monday Poem going!

The poem is very powerful and very raw. All the short sentences and sentence fragments go well with the poem's energy! What do you think it means? Maybe he's expressing frustration with all the social demands of having to put on a show, fill in a role, having to act patriotic and look the right part of a good citizen rather tham expressing the truth in his heart?

Maybe also it's about people having to protect their image so agressively nowadays - a good friend once told me, you need to market yourself, and my strong internal reaction was oh, hell no!!! My personal life is about living, not about business. I'm not going to go around posting inappropriate pictures of course, but I'm not going to hide who I am either or try to craft some image of who I am! Especially for a job of all things.

Life is too short to see myself as a product - people will see all of who I am and they can choose to like it or not - so far that has been enough, and I guess it will have to be enough. That's a line I won't cross. I don't choose friends because of what they can do for me career-wise, and I never will.


message 10: by Joan (last edited Aug 02, 2018 05:28PM) (new)

Joan People differ in how they feel about knowing the author’s intent - so I hesitated to share this:


This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all over America are forced to carry out in the event of a school shooter and the often futile drill that black parents execute with their children (even once they become adults) to hopefully protect them from abusive police officers who identify them as targets and not as people”


The Poem-A-Day email that I get includes a blurb from the authors. I generally read the poem a few times before I look at the poet’s comments.


message 11: by Greg (last edited Aug 02, 2018 05:35PM) (new)

Greg | 7374 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all over America are forced to carry out in the event of ..."


Wow, I did not pick up on that at all, but going back and re-reading with this description I can see it. So I guess the posing, the show of patriotism are to protect them from being profiled by police. Interesting! Thanks for the author's blurb Joan.


message 12: by Joan (last edited Aug 02, 2018 06:14PM) (new)

Joan Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all over America are forced to carry out in ..."


To prevent them being killed

True story: I was visiting a local junior high to discuss carrers in science. The students asked about genetics and DNA testing - I told them that if the police asked me for a DNA sample I would insist on a court order.
This group of 13 yr olds, who didn’t know me at all told me they couldn’t demand that because they were black & hispanic - that if the police asked they had to comply.
I was left with the realization that The Bill of Rights is relevant to me but doesn’t apply to everyone in the USA.

Reading this poem brought back the sadness & pain I felt that day - even before I read Reynold’s comment.


message 13: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7374 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all over America are forced to ..."


Yes, killed because of being racially profiled by bad or lazy officers, no? Is that what the author's explanation is saying?


message 14: by Joan (new)

Joan Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all over America a..."


I latched onto his word - dissonance-
the difference in experience of children depending on their race -
children in one group are outraged/astounded about the risk of being shot
children in the other group have long been told that the risk is part of their existence


message 15: by Joan (new)

Joan I liked the universality that you and Alannah pointed out.
you two showed me it could be personal.


message 16: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7374 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "Greg wrote: "Joan wrote: "This is what the poet said about his intention:

“(It) is a poem that comments on the dissonance between the active shooter drills children all o..."


I see Joan, thanks!


message 17: by Joan (new)

Joan Greg, It may not be a question of bad or lazy.

There is some interesting research on bias and what economists call fast/slow thinking

https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar...


message 18: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7374 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Greg, It may not be a question of bad or lazy.

There is some interesting research on bias and what economists call fast/slow thinking

https://www.scientificamerican.com/ar......"


Fascinating Joan!, and I definitely think this article has the ring of truth.

I suppose are some corrupt or lazy policemen as there are some corrupt and lazy people in every possible line of work, but I would think the vast majority do try to be fair and do their jobs properly. And certainly the brain works like this ... generalizing is a natural process, though it can have unintended consequences - the article you attached was great!


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