Gente que Cuenta

The blackboard,
by Leonor Henríquez

Pizarron Atril press e1717723129894
“Smells, colors, sounds, took me to my first-grade classroom…”

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That squeak turned into a shudder throughout my body.

Also, in my memory.

Smells, colors, sounds, took me to my first-grade classroom.

The teacher wrote non-stop, words, graphics, “hard thoughts,” as my eight-year-old son once described them in a poem that I will share at the end, a product of that “forced poetry workshop” with which I tortured my children since very tender age.

The class flowed with interest and the students looked attentively, perhaps I, with the dreaminess that characterizes me. The teacher erased the blackboard and wrote again on the clean surface.

I thought, where did all that knowledge that disappeared in a flash to be replaced by others, go?

Around me, my classmates were taking notes. I moved the pencil, pretending I was understanding everything.

I came to myself. Class over.

I felt myself waking up from the time tunnel.

In front of me, on the blackboard, what looked like the remains of an explosion, fragments of narrative arc, rubble of points of view and three-act structure, broken graphics that looked more like a class on quantum mechanics than the Novel Workshop in which I recently registered.

If this is how you write a novel, I thought, I think mine is going to be unfinished.

However, in these times where everything is a screen, I found the chalk and blackboard experience fascinating.

Furthermore, it was an experience that took me back to those afternoons in Caracas, looking at Ávila, with my six- and eight-year-old children, when we wrote “forced” poems, from which true masterpieces emerged.

As I promised at the beginning, thirty years later, I leave you with the poetic breath of an eight-year-old child, my son.


The blackboard with hard thoughts
with that strong green
with such hard thoughts.
Creeps on the nails with learning
of wisdom and with allergic chalk.

Santiago Pérez Henríquez (1996)

www.atril .press Leonor Henríquez e1670869356570

Leonor Henríquez (Caracas, Venezuela) Civil Engineer by training (UCAB 1985), writer and apprentice poet by vocation. From her time in engineering emerged her Office Stories (1997), another way of seeing the corporate world. Her latest publications include reflections on grief, Hopecrumbs (2020) ( and “The Adventures of Chispita” (2021) ( an allegory of life inside Mom’s belly.
Today she shares her “impulsive meditations” from Calgary, Canada, where she lives.

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