This is a poem I taught many, many times to my students. I wish I’d had the opportunity to share this reading with them.
Having read it out loud so often, it is interesting to hear how the poet reads it; when I read it, my students were sitting there in front of me, not really that interested, and with poor listening skills – not because they were stupid, just disenchanted with education.
I would read it for them as if it was one of them grown up, reflecting on a part-time job they’d had, so maybe I was less passionate than Martín. Because I wanted to fire their dormant imagination, I emphasized the colours in the poem, I gestured and acted out the boy straightening the stacks of paper and painting on the glue, and shaking my hand as if the cuts were burning with it. At the end I would open my hands in a mime of opening a book and then look at them as if seeing the painful cuts on my sore skin.
We would have copies of the poem which would be stuck on a big A3 sheet of paper, and then as we worked our way through the poem they would write (and draw!) on the sheet, making notes to help them with their written work later. We would underline the different colours mentioned with the appropriate coloured pens, yellow paper, red glue, maybe stick some cut out pictures of Martín himself on the sheet – and create quite a work of art.
When they’d used their notes for whatever task I’d set them, we would make a display of their big sheets on the wall – partly to remind them of what they had achieved, but also because I was proud of them and wanted to show off their work!
Hearing Martín read the poem, and the passion of his voice, reminds me that as an authors we feel so strongly about our work, have such emotion in our intention but our audience – whether it’s someone like me as a teacher, or whether it’s my bored students, our audience hears or reads it differently from what we can ever imagine!