Poetry Friday: surrounded by "Totally like whatever, you know?"

Welcome…the Poetry Friday round up is here!

I spent all afternoon at our local Barnes and Noble today, looking for treasures for my classroom library.  It was a rainy, yuckky day in New Jersey, and it seemed as though every teenager who wasn’t at camp, working or at the beach was right there at B&N….  their conversations reminded me of this Taylor Mali poem:

Totally like whatever, you know?
by Taylor Mali
In case you hadn’t noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you’re talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you’re saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)’s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren’t, like, questions? You know?
Declarative sentences—so-­‐called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true, okay,
as opposed to other things are, like, totally, you know, not—
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don’t think I’m uncool just because I’ve noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It’s like what I’ve heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I’m just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?
What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we’ve just gotten to the point where it’s just, like . . .
And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we’ve become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!
I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

 ….makes me wonder, what did I sound like at that age, you know?

And here is Mali, reciting “Totally like…” as only he can:

As luck would have it, I have a workshop to attend all day on Friday.  I’m hoping that Mr. Linky  will help keep track of the round up. Please link up below and don’t forget to check out other blogs to see what they have in store this Poetry Friday!

33 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: surrounded by "Totally like whatever, you know?"

  1. Thanks for letting us post early! Mine will be up after midnight. It looks like I neglected to change the title of the poem I'm sharing at Kurious Kitty, it is "Waiting for Icarus" by Muriel Rukeyser, not "Caroline."

  2. Tara, what a very apt and timely poem. I've been wondering about that interrogative tone – I've noticed that even with my own daughter who has adopted that tone as she studies in an international school here (an American school), and it has carried over in her speech. This is the first time I've heard of this poem, and the video clip is brilliant. I love it!

  3. Hi Tara – one of my current pet peeves in teenspeak (and older) is "I know, right?" Grrrr…. What exactly does that add to any conversation?? Thanks so much for sharing the poem and video. Thinking of you in your workshop!

  4. Wow! Like this was so, you know. And I was like, that is so totally like what I was hearing at the grocery store checkout. I mean, so not like what I thought. But it was. I'm like, are they saying anything? And so like totally caught up in it that they weren't doing anything either. I'll gag…I mean, bag it myself.My poem is up at midnight, which it almost is now.

  5. Totally awesome, Tara! I mean, seriously, I am so going to check out that, like, poet? Loved it with conviction, and how! I'm in today with a little preschool ditty and a sayonara until September. Thanks for hosting! 🙂

  6. Hi Tara,Thanks for sharing this and for hosting. I have an original poem "What Might We Understand," inspired by the Mary Oliver poem "How Would You Live Then?" that Ruth shared last week. Happy Poetry Friday!Liz

  7. No poem from me this week. I've got digital citizenship on my mind. My post is a PSA, not a rant. I'm looking forward to hearing what others think on this topic.

  8. You know what gets me? When a young person will interrupt you expressing a thought with a burst out "same." So that they have agreed with you and shared their own experience before you even finish your sentence. Does that happen to you?

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