Slice of Life Story Challenge March 28 Poetry From The Left Hand Side


Poetry From The Left Hand Side


I have had many conversations over the years regarding my left handedness.  Kids find it funny that I am left handed and my last name is Wright. They are often astounded to hear the story of my first year of school and how my teacher told me, ‘You must learn to write with your right hand, otherwise you will never be a neat writer.’

I was so obviously inclined to use my left hand and my left foot. I was also extremely determined. All these years later, those words continue to rebound in my conscious memory. Every time I pick up a pen to write, those words come flying back through the mists of time. It has been my mission to prove my teacher wrong. My commitment to becoming a neat writer has driven me. I may not be a fast writer, but I believe I have become a neat writer. It is unintended outcome of my teacher’s unenlightened view of my preferred hand.

In an earlier time left handed students were physically punished for having the effrontery to use their natural hand. Australian poet and writer Oodgeroo Noonuccal aka Kath Walker was one such victim. In her short story, The Left Hander she recounts her experience as a student in the 1920’s, ‘There were many painful scenes when I refused to pick up a pencil with my right hand; many times the head teacher’s ruler came down in full force on the knuckles of my left hand.’

We live in more enlightened times regarding left handedness, but the mental scars remain.
This poem was included in my last book, Searching For Hen’s Teeth-Poetry From The Search Zone. It stands as testimony to the struggle we left handers have endured over time.


 Leave My Left Hand Alone, Right!

When I started school
A Prep still unbranded
They looked at me strangely
And observed
He's left handed!
Well I was just five
And my left hand felt right
I didn't consider its use was a blight
You'll have to change hands
Learn to write like the rest
The news didn't please me
I found it a pest
They handed me crayons
Scissors and chalk
All in my right hand
But this didn't work
I scribbled and chopped
I felt quite bereft
I desperately needed the use of my left
I didn't conform
I continued to fight
The use of my left
Was a personal right
So they left me to write
With the hand of my choosing
And to this very day
It's the left I'm still using
Right?


*Prep- short for Preparatory class. This is the name given to students entering primary school for the first time. Also referred to as –Reception, Foundation or Kindergarten.




Comments

  1. My daughter is left handed in a house full of righties. It is just another thing that makes her unique and who she is. And truth be told, I secretly wish I was left handed. (You might want to fix your teacher's quote in the first paragraph or am I misreading it?)

    Jennifer

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    Replies
    1. More power to your daughter I say. Thanks also for the head's up regarding the unintended slip. Has been rectified. You were not misreading things. They say we are the worst proofreaders of our own words.

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  2. So many things in life are not fair for left-handed folks! I've never had anyone try to change my writing hand, so I am happy to write and eat the left one, but I use the right hand with scissors. Your handwriting is quite neat!

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely Elsie. For instance, in high school I was forced to play hockey as a right hander just to accommodate everyone else! Interesting observation regarding scissors. I recall them providing schools with left handed scissors at one point. I just found them impossible.They felt quite awkward in my hand. I had adjusted to right handed scissors

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  3. I enjoyed the combination of your story and poem (loved the rhythm). I'm always a little envious of left-handed people. Whenever we are watching movies and the actor/actress starts to write my husband inquires in a question that has become more like a statement, "Left handed?". I have to laugh as he is almost always right. Actors/Actresses are left handed more often than not. It's hard to believe teachers tried to force the change of hands for left handed children. It must have been quite challenging for you.

    Cathy

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