Enjoyed a night of storytelling at Chimera Loft (Evanston) just before school started. Here's a snapshot and the 3-minute story I told during open mic:

1973. I’d just graduated from college and got my dream job: teaching speech and drama at the new Oak Forest High School. I was going to change the world by teaching the Youth of America how to use their voices.


At new teacher orientation we were told two things. Don’t touch the kids and Don’t smile until Thanksgiving. If I was going to change the world, I was going to have to do it within those parameters.


There were challenges. There was a paper shortage so we had to print ditto master worksheets and quizzes on both sides of the paper – leaving us with a damp, fragrant, illegible purple mess. The classrooms weren’t all finished, so classes were crowded. I had 36 kids in one class, 42 in another, making it tough to keep any kind of order.


And then there was Michael. Athletic, black-hair, bright blue eyes and a big sideways grin, Michael swaggered into class each day, took his seat at the back of the room and caused a ruckus. He was never ready to do a speech and whenever some shy, nerdy kid was giving a talk, Michael was in the back snickering, making snide remarks and cracking up the others. I didn’t have a chance.

ne day, I had had enough. The heck with the “Don’t touch the kids” rule. I grabbed him by the shirt, dragged him into the hall and pinned him up against the lockers.


“What are you doing in there?”


Michael looked down at his shoes and mumbled, “Nuthin’.”

“You look at me when I’m talking to you!” He looked at me with those bright blue eyes, maybe a little frightened at my anger.


“You’re ruining the class for everybody else,” I said. “Who do you think you are?”


“Nobody.” He looked so small. And then I violated the “Don’t touch the kids” rule again and took him in my arms.


“Oh Michael,” I said, “You are somebody! Don’t you know who you are?”


“No.”


I said, “You are handsome and smart and the coolest kid in the room. Everybody in that class wants to be you. I don’t know what anybody has told you, but you are somebody wonderful.”


He looked so surprised! And then he broke out that marvelous grin. “Really?”


“Yes. Really. Now, are you with me?”


“Yeah,” he said, and when we walked back into the classroom, I broke the second rule. I smiled before Thanksgiving.

We Will Not be SilencedIndieBlu(e) Poetry Anthology... contains three of my poems and hundreds of others by writers I admire. Now in print and Kindle on amazon.com.


Subtitled "The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully through Poetry, Prose, Essay and Art," this book is neither screed nor pity party. Rather, it’s a positive, powerful platform to give voice to people who have been sexually exploited, abused, treated as invisible.Listen and believe them.

Click for a short video:

Marilyn Rea Beyer Poetry

Here's something for the start of a new year:

Weight


It’s going to crush you if you let it.

Don't.

Stand.

Put your hands in front of your chest.

Push.

You can, despite what you think.

Breathe.

Just keep doing that, one, two three, four, five…

Move.

Walk past it, leave it behind you.

Don't.

Wait.


©Marilyn Rea Beyer

Also: Follow the strong words of strong women in Whisper and the Roar. Two of my poems were published during June '18. Click on the poem titles to read To Live Like Shakespeare and I Never Feared Death.