NaPoWriMo Day 21: John Osborne – Teachers

Norwich-based poet, writer and performer John Osborne returns with a NaPoWriMo prompt we can all relate to: Teachers. Have a read and listen to John’s poem and then think back on the teachers in your life. There’s sure to be a poem in there somewhere.

What are electrons?

When our physics teacher died
we didn’t have to do physics anymore.
The headmaster wrote to the exam board
who replied with flowers and exemption forms.

Her equations were still on the blackboard
in her handwriting, in her empty classroom.
A pile of our school books still to be marked.
The Van de Graaff generator in the storeroom,
untouched. Our hair will not frizz again
and now we are excused from physics.

We all loved Mrs Allcock so much,
who spoke of us so warmly at parents’ evenings
and would tell us of her pre-teaching life
directing pantomimes, an understudy at the Old Vic,
she wrote the school play
and she’d let us change our own lines.

Every October there was a school trip to Jodrell Bank.
It was supposed to be our turn that year
Our parents had already signed the participation forms
and that’s why it would be unfair
for any of our class to have to obey the laws of gravity.
Physics brings back too many painful memories
and so we float.

John Osborne

John Osborne writes stories, poems and scripts. His poetry has been broadcast on Radio 1, Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC 6Music, XFM and Soho Radio.

Please share your responses to today’s prompt either in the comments or via email. The best submissions will be featured in future podcasts.

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