Posted by: poet kate hutchinson | March 30, 2014

13 Ways of Grading Essays

sea-sun-outside-window-15244348The last day of Spring Break finally brings sun and warmth, after a week of cold and rain.  Of course!  Isn’t it one of nature’s traditions to tease us this way?

So here I sit, with the stack of papers I’ve put off, looking at the bright sunshine through my patio doors.  I’ll escape for a walk, no doubt.  But in the meantime, I must tackle these paragraphs — drafts from my sophomores’ beginnings of research papers.

During the week when I was traveling and then busy with appointments, errands, and outings with family and friends, I knew this day would come.  In anticipation, I had a little fun with a riff on Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

This one’s for all the English teachers.  Let’s brace ourselves for 4th quarter!


coffee spoons mug

Thirteen Ways of Grading High School Essays


Drink two cups of coffee –
warrior black –
then wield the purple pen
like a sword.


Eyes to the rubric,rubricwrite2
notice shapes, lines,
blocks of words,
commas, periods, and – hopefully –
question marks.


Eyes off the rubric,
follow sparkling phrases
to astonishing blazes
of clear thought.


Consider all verbs
as messengers of deepest longing,
nouns as sentries
camouflaged by shiftless adjectives.


Withhold judgment.
Picture tender fingers,
white as they grip the pen.paper_airplane


Fold the top corners inward
on the diagonal, creating a point.
Repeat twice.
Lift and toss gently
across the room
toward the corner wastecan.


Read aloud slowly
again and again
while listening to Beethoven’s 7th –
the Pastoral –
and wait for the hidden songs
to emerge.

Three glasses

Everything depends upon
three glasses of red Merlot
lined up within reach
beyond the stack of white papers
on the desk.


Remember the tree
in its sun-baked splendor.
Let it imbue the page
with dignity.


This paper must be read.
This paper cannot be read.


O startling teens –tree
naiads in the woodlands
with eyes like unfolding buds –
must you be so predictable?

In their words I see
their future images of themselves,
brave and successful,
which means they are – as yet –
gloriously ignorant
of all ignorance.


Save for last

the essay you know will be

brilliant and flawless,

and restore inner peace.

Yet even this one –

if read after ten p.m. –

will put you to sleep.



harvest moon



  1. Kate, I just came across your blog. I’m so glad I did. keep doing poems, dulcie.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Umi Miyahara

believe in the fantastic, stay curious in the everyday

Fire Up Your Writing Brain

How to Use Proven Neuroscience to Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Writer


feminism. literature. books by/about women. women in/and/of books.

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Tupelo Press

Live from the Loft

Change Your Life | The Change Blog

How to change your life


Understand your mind with the science of psychology -

Poet Kate Hutchinson

Life From Both Sides of the Window

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: