Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Dead Poets Society”

The Boston Yawps


Wasn’t it Albert Finney who started the trend of yelling out loud when oh so tired of it all? Seems like it was the movie Network. An outright yell he did—good old-fashioned stress relief. He was mad about non-Covid stuff, but a good yelling out loud seemed to work in that movie.

Well, Albert didn’t inspire me. Uncle Walt did. Walt. As in Walt Whitman from The Dead Poets Society featuring Robin Williams as a prep school English teacher. He introduces the word and concept of *YAWP*

YAWP yawp/yôp/noun: a harsh or hoarse cry or yelp.

Robin helped Todd to not only find his YAWP, he also helped him find his muse.

I’m fine with my muse, but the stress of Covid Coping has me finding my own stress relief: I YAWP in my car. Windows rolled up and I wait until no other cars are about before committing. There is a dandy stretch of back road that has become my YAWP zone.

The key to a proper YAWP is to take a deep breath, filling up the diaphragm, and then releasing that oh so satisfying belly yell. Screaming from the belly releases tension. Screaming from the throat releases neighborly calls to the sheriff.

So this belly yell, this need to scream because it just can’t be taken anymore, this Covid Coping strategy of just letting it go is a thing in Boston where a group of mothers scream, with some prompting and organization (traffic wands as cues, no less). I call them The Boston Yawps; however, their screaming is not very melodious. It is rather disturbing, actually. They need a coach prompting them to belly yell not a Jamie Curtis Scream Queen throat ripper.

No matter. They feel better. Maybe Yawping will catch on. I will continue to YAWP in the privacy of my car. I’m not ready for Friday Night Lights organized yelling.

Have you tried a YAWP lately? Or perhaps you have a better form of Covid Coping. Yes? Do share.

There is no rhyme nor reason to poetry…


at least according to some of my freshmen.  I can understand their point. Who wants to study grammatically incorrect phrasings and try to make sense of what they are talking about when you are doing all you can at trying to get a handle on whether it’s “A” day or “B” day and what lunch you have (“ummm, first lunch on “A” day or was that “B” day?). But we’ve made a commitment to Common Core and it’s full speed ahead.

Cover of "Dead Poets Society"

Cover of Dead Poets Society

Actually, I’ve always been a proponent of poetry.  I’ve brought cowboy poets into the classroom, Beatle songs, clips of Robin Williams doing his crazy wonderful teacher in Dead Poets Society, and provided recipes for poems.  I had football players writing love poems and entering contests, mud boggers writing sonnets about their trucks. We’ve explored performance poetry through Taylor Mali’s incredible YouTube videos and we’ve participated in a packed-out community program of youth performing their own poetry.

Common Core though, I’ve noticed, has dented my zing. I’ve been having students prepare for their SBAC (I should know what that means) by writing up reaction paragraphs to each poem as a means of them practicing their critical thinking skills. There is nothing wrong with understanding and recognizing how, or what, or why the poem works, yet poetry is so different from prose. It should encourage the soul to sing. I’m afraid in my zeal for my students to do well on their tests by getting their writing skills up to stuff I’ve lost my way towards my original goal of greeting me with “What’s the poem today?” with that anticipation of a new flavor to relish.

Hmm, some Walt  Whitman and Song of Myself might do it…

Cover of "Song of Myself (Shambhala Centa...

Cover via Amazon

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