This is just to say –

This Is Just To Say

by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I’m teaching poetry right now in the ninth grade, and I always like to include William Carlos Williams poem, ” This Is Just To Say,”  mainly for the shock value. The students think poetry is hard and full of obscure symbols and has to rhyme ( blah, blah blah) and this short,  clear, packed, ( and heavily anthologized) piece always brings responses  such as, ” That’s not a poem” or “it sounds like a sticky note on a refrigerator”.  It is one of my favorites because it’s such a universal experience ( who hasn’t had  family members help themselves to what he was saving in the fridge?) and it speaks  briefly but loudly about the complexity of relationships ( is the speaker truly sorry, or were the plums so delicious he doesn’t really regret eating them? ).

The poem is also a favorite of mine because I am an explainer.  The title alone hold meaning for me because I’m the person who leaves the note, who wants to make her case, who wants to be correctly understood – even if it takes a long conversation.  Thus, this blog is born.   I give the same speeches to my students year after year; I fret about the same issues with my colleagues day after day. After numerous conferences in person and by phone, I find myself saying the same things over and over – to one parent at a time.  Not only am I sharing insights about ninth graders in general, explaining what we are  doing  in my classroom, and hopefully helping parents see their child in the context of their age group and their course load, but I also find myself telling my own stories. I have both a son and a daughter who were once ninth graders. I survived.  This blog is my attempt to get some of that written down, to record the stories or the explanations that may help a student, parent, or another teacher navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of educating young adults.


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