What I wanted: To teach my sweet, suburban high school freshies to write love poetry. I gave them the tools, hoping they would visit the innocent days of romance, find ways to chronicle their fresh, fumbling attempts at love. I thought I might gather their ode and maybe send them in to Art Linkletter or--in case Art was dead or something--Garrison Keillor. Ah, youth.
What they wrote: Stilted and stiff stanzas, basically limericks without wheels. Bulges. Entanglements. Much wetness. You could almost hear Barry White growling in the backdrop.
What a teacher told me: "You know about the girls giving blowjobs in the stairwells?"

Originally Published: March 21st, 2007

Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017), winner of an NAACP Image Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall...