The Author’s Purpose: A Poem for the Test Makers

The Author’s Purpose

(A Poem for the Test Makers)

Kate Messner, Copyright 2014

You said the answer was C.

But in truth,

That line of alliteration was never intended

To echo the soft sound of the wind

Or create any particular emotion at all

In the reader.

I thinking of neither reader

Nor test maker nor wind

when I wrote it.

I simply liked the way my teeth tickled my bottom lip

As I spoke the words aloud.


That was not a choice.

And sadly, there was no answer E:

None of the above.

You said the answer was B.

But my character Athena was neither Greek nor goddess.

She was named for a skinny, scrappy girl

Who sat with tangled curls at a back table

In my seventh grade classroom.

She was always right (she was sure of it)

And hid her worries behind a tipped-up chin.

It is possible, of course,

That this young Athena was named for the goddess

of Multiple Choice B.

But that wasn’t the question, was it?

Besides, you’d have to ask her parents about that.

Parents, like writers, have reasons of their own

for such things.

And while those reasons may launch

A thousand spirited discussions

(best over chocolate cupcakes and tea)

They are not the stuff of multiple choice.

Not when you don’t know the answer

and didn’t even pick up the phone to ask.

Unless of course you’d like to talk about this poem.

Shall we give it a try together?

The author’s purpose is most likely:

a)    To invite conversation and thought.

b)   To tell corporate test makers where they can put Answer C.

c)    To tell kids that they should keep asking questions,

Keep reading and wondering, digging and debating, and dreaming.

d)   To argue that questions worth asking

and answers worth finding

       rarely fit in a bubble at all.

e)    All of the above.

Note from Kate: If you love this poem & want to share it on your own blog, website, or Facebook wall, please do not copy and paste the text. Instead, please include a short quote or just the title and then share the rest of the poem by providing a link to my original post here – that way, you can share with your own readers and honor the copyright, too. Here’s the URL:

The Author’s Purpose: A Poem for the Test Makers

Many thanks for practicing good digital citizenship!

6 Replies on “The Author’s Purpose: A Poem for the Test Makers

  1. Happily, I do not teach in a ‘test-taking’ world, but I hear plenty from friends who do, & from my grandson, a 7th grader now, with plenty to say about the constant test prep. I’ll share where others will enjoy this immensely, Kate! Thanks for putting the bubbles where they belong, in a creative poem.

  2. I could go on and on about my objections to standardized tests, what they’re doing to education (to teachers, to kids, to schools, to parents), but I can tell you share my thoughts. Thanks for your stunning poem, Kate.