New Orleans author brings art of words to Lawndale

PHOTO: Children's poet Brod Bagert ends his program at Lawndale Elementary School Tuesday with funky rendition of “Ode To Joy” on the harmonica. (C. Todd Sherman)

By Mack Spencer
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Brod Bagert was a poor baseball player, a good wrestler, a lawyer, New Orleans city councilman and, in the opinion of some, a viable candidate for governor of Louisiana.

Now, he's a poet, and he knows it.

“I knew I wanted to be a poet when I was in third grade,” Bagert said Tuesday during a visit to Lawndale Elementary School. “If you want to do something, you have to discover your talents. You have to follow your dreams É but I didn't have the courage to follow my dreams.”

Thus, his time was spent as a lawyer before starting his second career, thrilling children with books of poetry including “Chicken Socks,” “Giant Children” and “Elephant Games.”

While talking to the youngsters, Bagert took a detour into his personal life, describing “The Great Cat Rescue” of Ricey-Rice and The Chiz from his flooded New Orleans home with a smile on his face – even if the smile was on a Mardi Gras mask.

The students brought Bagert back to his work – goaded by Bagert himself – with: “Dude! Poetry is not about the poet! It's about the work!”

Bagert read and then edited a poem, “The Wiggle Machine,” that he started for his next book.

He demonstrated voice with poems like “Jaws,” and introduced accents with “Food Cheer.” Guaranteed kid-pleaser “Booger Love” was just for fun, and “Llama” – with lines like “Llama llama llama llama” and “Llama llama llama” – was offered in case some future teacher wanted the students to memorize a poem.

“I want you all to become poetry lovers, and you can do that by finding one poem you love,” Bagert told the students. “You find a poem by listening. If I pointed to a sheet of music and asked if you liked it, that would be weird, wouldn't it?”

On harmonica, Bagert played a sheet of music he had displayed, Beethoven's “Ode to Joy,” which segued at the end into “Shave and a Haircut.”

Bagert's appearance was funded by an Association for Excellence in Education grant.

Contact Mack Spencer at 678-1582 or mack.spencer@djournal.com