Forty-five minutes of fame


Ben Prengler

Poetry is a major focus of AP Literature classes, as one of their three essays on the AP exam will be a poetry analysis.

Jayme Allen, Staff Reporter

I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as nervous walking into an English class as I was the day we did a close read on Lisa Taylor’s poem Little Bird. As I stepped into the AP/GT Literature classroom, my heart started pounding and my hands started sweating. I sat in my usual seat in the back corner, the poem shaking in my hands.

The class was silent as we read, with the exception of pencils scrawling ideas on paper.


It was after school, on a Tuesday afternoon,

I was walking home-

Like I always do,

When I saw a bird,

Lying on the concrete.


I asked the bird,

Why it was lying on the concrete,

Because didn’t it know,

Birds were meant to fly?


He looked at me-

Square in the eyes,

And tilted his head,

Slightly to the left.


He didn’t understand, I suppose,

Why I could expect him to fly.

But it was what he had been made to do!

He had wings, and feathers,

Didn’t he?


He should be flying high,

Not down here on the concrete,

Where I put my dirty footprints,

The rain’s last destination.


He was worth so much more than the ground,

He deserved the sky.

I felt bad for that little bird,

He didn’t know what he was missing.


It seemed I couldn’t convince him,

My words weren’t enough.

So I moved on-

Kept walking.

Leaving red footprints,

Soiled with the blood of the bird,

Who had a broken wing,

That I simply hadn’t seen.



As my classmates began to finish the poem, I heard several exclamations of confusion and surprise.


“Wait- so the bird was dead?”
“Well that escalated quickly.”

Teacher Amanda Glorioso began to lead the class in a discussion about the meaning behind the poem, as well as the author’s use of literary (or poetic) devices. The class was silent, all staring at our teacher with plenty of ideas, but nothing we were confident enough to say in front of our peers. Since it’s a GT class, my classmates are mostly very analytical and intelligent people, with the capability to delve into the ‘bigger picture,’ while preferring to take things at face value. Glorioso tried to direct our discussion by posing the question, “could the bird be a symbol?” With this, the class sighed simultaneously.

“Well if I had known that before reading this, I probably would understand what’s going on,” one student said.

This spurred the discussion as people began to throw out their perspective on what this poem is really about.

“I think it’s about judging others, and making assumptions,” another student said.

“Well when the author specifies that the speaker is on her way home from school, it makes me think this is either a criticism on education, or maybe about how parents can assume they know what’s going on, when they really don’t.”

The thoughts were flying fast now.

“I feel like it’s about making snap judgements on people.”

“I think it’s trying to portray a child’s curious and naive perspective on the world.”

“I almost think the author is trying to have their readers change their perspective on life, especially because the speaker seems to be selfishly helpful, asking the bird why it isn’t doing what it should, but it’s almost like she’s saying ‘let me experience you.”

I knew exactly what the author’s purpose behind this poem was, but, unlike any other class discussion, I refused to say anything. Instead, I had my pencil on the back of my paper the whole time, furiously scribbling notes on what everyone else had been saying.

This is because Lisa Taylor, who wrote this poem, is the pseudonym I chose to use rather than my real name.

I got the opportunity to share my poem with my class when I got into the habit of having Glorioso look through some of my poems earlier this year. She loved reading poems, and I loved writing them, so I found myself staying a minute after class every day asking her what she thought of what I had most recently written.

I had showed her a poem entitled “Neverland”, one named “Hourglass”, “Little Bird”, “Growing Up”, and several others. One day she asked if I would be willing to subject one of them to a close read in class. I was hesitant at first, mostly because I’m not very confident in my skills as a poet, but after she assured me that I could go under a fake name, I agreed, excited by the idea of feeling like a real poet for 45 minutes.

Most of my classmates did understand the meaning of the poem, which was a pleasant surprise. “Little Bird” is essentially about the world’s view on those suffering mental illness, which was definitely in line with what everyone was saying.

Basically, the girl symbolizes the world, or people who see the potential in those who are suffering, without seeing what’s holding them back. The girl tries to tell the bird that it has worth, and that it can reach heights that it isn’t reaching. The girl seems to have the bird’s best intentions at heart, but when simple words weren’t enough, she moved on. In life, many people will see the potential that their friends and family have, and will get frustrated to see that they aren’t meeting it, yet very few will do more than use their words to try to show them how much they ‘see in them,’ rather than trying to find out why they aren’t doing as well as they ‘should.’

I didn’t expect my classmates to see this much of the idea behind the poem, and I was just pleased that they understood that it was about superficial judgements. This was probably my favorite part of the experience; having the opportunity to hear how people reacted and the meaning they took from my poem with a completely unbiased view because they had no idea it was actually mine (and they won’t know unless they happen to read this- I asked my teacher to not announce it at the end of class).

It was just another day of poem analysis for the rest of my class, but for me, this was my 45 minutes of fame.