“Thirteen”; what a copycatting teacher.

A few months ago, my English teacher (Gabbmeister) decided to give us a poetry assignment.

That in itself was terrible enough; I don’t understand poetry and I never really liked it much. The majority of it is either emo or lovey dovey, and it’s all riddles; it never tells me the point of the poem straight out.

But this time was even worse. Gabbmeister gave us the assignment to COPY AN EXISTING POEM (in the idea, format, and title) but adapt it to ourselves.

While it wasn’t exactly plagorism, it felt very similar. Let me just show you what I mean. Here is the original poem, “Fifteen” by William Stafford.

William Stafford

South of the Bridge on Seventeenth
I found back of the willows one summer
day a motorcycle with engine running
as it lay on its side, ticking over
slowly in the high grass.  I was fifteen.

I admired all that pulsing gleam, the
shiny flanks, the demure headlights
fringed where it lay; I led it gently
to the road and stood with that
companion, ready and friendly.  I was fifteen.

We could find the end of the road, meet
the sky on out Seventeenth.  I thought about
hills, and patting the handle got back a
confident opinion.  On the bridge we indulged
a forward feeling, a tremble.  I was fifteen.

Thinking, back farther in the grass I found
the owner, just coming to, where he had flipped
over the rail.  He had blood on his hand, was pale…
I helped him walk to his machine.  He ran his hand
over it, called me a good man, roared away.

I stood there, fifteen.

Now here is my version; “Thirteen”, by Nora Rogers.


Downtown in a crowded amphitheater

I sat with my best friend

We awaited the cheer of the crowd below

To alert us of the start of the show

I was thirteen.


A scream occurred as the trio rose up

High above any of our heads

We got to our feet

Our sprits were excrete

The band started to play up ahead

I was thirteen.


I sang the words loudly as never before

Jumping and dancing all over the floor

The twang of the guitar really striking my soul

The banjo’s chords really took a toll

I was thirteen.


The power and joy and excitement of it all

Really made me feel at home

Now every year on March 22nd

I’ll remember Rascal Flatts’ superdome.

I was thirteen.

Not to mention that I suck at poetry already (by reading that I’m sure it’s obvious), but then we had to make it worse by COPYING already published work! It just made me angry.


~ by junkinmahcranium on May 8, 2009.

2 Responses to ““Thirteen”; what a copycatting teacher.”

  1. That’s a weird assignment! Bad enough for the kids who don’t like poetry, but the ones who do? They have to copy an existing poem, they can’t write their own.
    And you may think you’re bad at poetry, but I LOVE the way you adapted it! I may be biased but, I thought it was pretty darn good.

  2. I liked your poem more than the original since I could understand yours better. haha.
    i understand where the teacher is comming from. Lots of teachers assign students to write a story based on a fairy tale, it just has poetry thrown in this time.

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