The celebrity poetry judge

Recruiting the local editor to be a celebrity poetry judge...

“Mom, I have a favour to ask you!”

As the mother of three adult children, all of whom have spouses and children and busy days crammed from border to border with “to do” stuff, I am well aware that sometimes this stuff spills over into the category of “too much.”

That’s why when I get the 9-1-1-mom/grandma calls, I’m not too surprised.

As usual, I get such a call when I’m sitting at my cluttered desk in my cluttered office struggling with the challenge of having an uncluttered mind.

I have the phone cradled on my left shoulder, a pen in my left hand and a notebook in front of me. I’m ready…..for what I’m not sure, but I’m ready.

“Of course,” I respond automatically. “How can I help?”

“Well, I need you to judge a poetry contest at my school. I want you to be the celebrity judge.”

“Really, a celebrity judge,” I muse, and immediately the little thought flashed into my mind, quick as a lightening bug. “She meant to call someone else.”

“Me?”

“Yes, mom,” she patiently answered. “You! Can you do it?”

“Well, of course,” I reply. “I would love to.”

And so it came to be that last Thursday I found myself outside the school where my daughter teaches Grade 8. Although it was early, I must admit to being amazed at the hub of activity that was already happening.

It was like the world and everyone in it suddenly got very busy because the bell was going to ring at any minute.

Kids were all over the place, kind of like the pieces of a moving patchwork quilt. In between the pieces were cars and school buses and in between those pieces were the adults.

That’s where I fit in. The adult. The celebrity judge.

I found my way inside the front door and finally to the front desk where I was greeted by the teacher (my daughter) and one of her students (my granddaughter). Already feeling slightly overwhelmed and somewhat less than celebrity like, I followed them to the band room (where the contest was held) and finally to the judges’ table.

They brought me coffee and also, because it was someone’s birthday, cake.

Slowly I began to relax and even feel a little more celebrity like.

Several students were already milling about, going over their contest submissions, gathering in little groups, talking, giggling, and, every now and then, sneaking me quick looks, no doubt, to see if I was looking back.

I was.

Suddenly, the bell rang and the students arranged themselves in rows, their chatter momentarily lulled, their attention on the loud speaker.

As their attention shifted away from the upcoming contest, I faded into the background, becoming the observer, the noticer, the fly on the wall.

I sipped my coffee slowly. I was curious as to what would come next.

When they started their day with a short prayer and the singing of O’ Canada I was momentarily taken aback.

“I love this school,” I think, feeling a sudden rush of pride, mixed with a good dose of humility as I observed these students and the simple, respectful way they started their school day.

My daughter, the teacher, then walked to the front of the room. She explained the rules of the contest and then went on to talk about me, the celebrity judge. She briefly mentioned my career as an editor and a columnist, graciously leaving out any of my shortcomings, which would have taken far too long, anyway.

And then she said the thing that I am the most proud of which is, without a doubt, my best accomplishment ever.

“And she’s also my mom.”

The students clapped obligingly. And so the contest began. One by one the students came to the front of the room. Some sauntered, some came quickly, some kept their head down. Some walked, tall and straight. They were brave, they were fearful, they were shy, they were flamboyant.

But they all came and once again I was humbled and impressed. The students’ work was diverse, thoughtful, clever and original. It was deep, simple, funny, serious, poignant, heartbreaking. All was filled with nuggets of wisdom, as seen through the eyes of the youth.

How to judge? Impossible!

To me they were all winners! Each and every one.

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review and writes a regular column for The Pipestone Flyer.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Road allowance closure goes to prov govt

Encroaching house situation could set ‘precedent’

County of Wetaskiwin council approves water rate hike of 3 per cent

Councilors balk at proposed rate increase of 4 per cent

Trudeau hypocrite on Iran plane crash

Writer says P.M. not that concerned about China hostages

Leaders of Tomorrow kicks off Jan. 16

Nominations accepted for youth recognition until Feb. 22

Team improves access to addiction, mental health supports

Service provides expanded on-call consultation

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Canada prepares as WHO decides whether to declare global coronavirus emergency

The city of Wuhan, China, has shut down outbound flights and trains

Survey finds support among Canadians for broader assisted-dying law

The survey was conducted Jan. 17 to 21 among 1,552 Canadians eligible to vote

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Alberta premier wants federal government to do more about opioid imports

Jason Kenney says Canada should find ways to cut down on drugs being smuggled into the country

Alberta Energy Regulator laying off staff, restructures, deals with budget cuts

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring

Most Read