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APRIL 3, 2003 · Cheryl Lockhart teaches English at Amphitheater High School in Tucson, Ariz. A few days ago, her students began one class talking about poetry and wound up discussing the war in Iraq. "I think of all the 27 years I've taught and there was a sense that I've never felt before -- of just my lifting a lid off of a powder keg, that they had been waiting for someone to let them vent about the subject." Once a week, one of her English students gives a presentation about a poem. Lockhart's War Diary entry begins with a discussion of a poem that one student chose, called "What Were They Like?" by the American poet Denise Levertov.
And, first of all, they became very, very quiet and very reluctant to speak. But it evolved very quickly into a real emotional outburst and it was interesting what they did and did not say. One of the things they didn't talk about was the reasons we've gone to war. Those topics didn't come up, the dialogue that we hear in the news all the time. What it quickly evolved into is a sense of personal threat. In fact, I said, 'It sounds to me like you're feeling personally unsafe.' And the boy that was talking said, 'Absolutely, I feel this will lead to nuclear war.'
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