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Art Show: Conversations with Dead Poets

the cup is red (lies we tell our children)

by Amie R Gillingham

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Art: the cup is red (lies we tell our children) by Artist Amie R Gillingham

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) has long been a favourite poet of mine for her no-nonense approach to verse. She had a tendency to find the poetry in everyday life, and to put it forth in a Shaker-esque language of beauty, simplicity, and utility. Her poem, "Learning in the First Grade," is the inspiration for this piece.

Learning in First Grade

"The cup is red. The drop of rain
is blue. The clam is brown."

So said the sheet of exercises--
purple mimeos, still heady
from the fluid in the rolling
silver drum. But the cup was

not red. It was white,
or had no color of its own.

Oh, but my mind was finical.
It put the teacher perpetually
in the wrong. Called on, however,
I said aloud: "The cup is red."

"But it's not," I thought,
like Galileo Galilei
muttering under his beard.


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