While many members of the TASIS community are now familiar with the innovative storytelling method 5th-grade teacher Mr. Matthew James Friday employs both in his own classroom and as a visiting teacher throughout the TASIS Elementary School, what they may not know is that Mr. Friday is also a prolific poet who has now had more than 60 poems published in dozens of print and online journals around the world.
Mr. Friday has a passion for helping students of all ages enjoy reading and writing poetry. His 5th-grade students read and explored verse throughout the month of March, and their original poems were displayed on the message board outside Monticello throughout the first week of April. Their poetry will also be featured in the ES TASIS Times, an annual Elementary School publication, later this spring.
“I like to use poetry and language to tell small stories, to reassure people who don’t usually like poetry that it is something they can easily understand and enjoy,” explained Mr. Friday. “The best thing is when people write their own poems!”
Some of the many journals Mr. Friday has been published in
Mr. Friday is in the process of curating a selection of poems centered around the theme of “childhood,” and he looks forward to sharing this new collection with the TASIS community in May. Below is a poem that was recently published and will be included in his new childhood-themed collection.
“Margherita Has Her Ears Pierced” by Matthew James Friday
Published in The Brasilia Review in March 2019
Her eighth birthday choice:
to shrink into the dentist seat,
back-alley Como pharmacy,
tightly gripping arm supports,
metal bolt punching one innocent
lobe. Squirm, suffocated yelp —
parents watching, nodding
knowingly — red rose blossoming.
A few seconds of doubt
as the man swaps sides, moves
the ear bolt across, calming
words in Italian, childhood waving,
stepping back, young woman
ahead, waving on. Gripping tighter,
the second bolt more painful,
a piercing animal cry, then adults
applause, hugs. Her reward:
bejewelled metals in a bruised garden.
When he’s not helping children learn the art of storytelling or crafting his own poetry, Mr. Friday enjoys dabbling in the world of prose. Just this month he had a short story published in The New Normal Vol. II: More Tales from International School Teachers, a compendium that follows the experiences of 40 educators in 28 different countries. All proceeds will benefit education via The Children of Haiti Project.
Mr. Friday had to withstand a rigorous publication process in order for his heartwarming tale, “Stories From My Name,” to see the light of day.
“I had to pitch an idea and then write a draft, which was put through a selection board,” he said. “There was no guarantee of acceptance, but luckily my story was chosen. The draft was then taken through a professional editorial process.”
Mr. Friday’s story is about the etymology of his unique surname and how it has evolved from a source of embarrassment to a source of strength over the course of his life.
“My family fame—Friday—was the source of much mocking and bullying at school but now seems to be something of a curiosity and bonus as an elementary school teacher,” he said. “It is a name that stands out and demands a story. Well, as a professional storyteller, I can't resist telling that story.”