I finished reading, “Fragile” by Lisa Unger last night. While I liked the book, I was taken aback by one description of one of the characters when she was in high school. It read, “She was the geek in black, with black fingernails and eyeliner, the brain, the poet, the freak,”(Unger, 95).

Why is it the poet is always the freak in the back?

Now, I know that I do fit the description. Back in high school, I did have the black nails (actually, it was middle school…8th grade really) and I was hiding in the back (helped my last name was a “W”). I did enjoy the massive amount of Wet N’ Wild black eyeliner you had to use a lighter to “get it started.” Hell, I even wore razor blade earrings and wrote horrific poetry all the time in class.

But, when did this become the norm to describe a poet?

I don’t think Sylvia Plath was goth-ing it out in the back of her high school English class.

But now we have this strange marker where the smart, writer kid is the “freak in black hiding behind his or her hair.”
I feel it comes from the feeling of being an outcast. No one was like me in high school. I could write five or six (what others thought were) decent poems in one sitting. I saw the world differently. In order to hide that difference, I hid in the back. I used an armor of black to keep others away, but what I wanted was for someone to really, really listen.
It’s now normal for kids, who have this wonderful gift of writing, to feel they need to cover themselves, wear things that seem abnormal to keep people away from them.

I think we don’t see writing as a gift when we are growing up. I know my teachers encouraged me to keep writing, but they always talked about what I was going to do for a career. Writing was the hobby.

Why can’t writing be a career?

And why does the girl in the back of the class, wearing black, have to be the poet? Can’t she be the brain surgeon and the cheerleader be the poet?