Study Guide

Wesley "Bad Boy" Boone in Bronx Masquerade

By Nikki Grimes

Wesley "Bad Boy" Boone

Wesley is the student genius who first gives Mr. Ward the idea to start Open Mike Fridays:

We spent a month reading poetry from the Harlem Renaissance in our English class. Then Mr. Ward—that's our teacher—asked us to write an essay about it. Make sense to you? Me neither. I mean, what's the point of studying poetry and then writing essays? So I wrote a bunch of poems instead. They weren't too shabby, considering I'd only done a few rap pieces before. My favorite was about Langston Hughes. How was I to know Teach would ask me to read it out loud? But I did. Knees knocking like a skeleton on Halloween, embarrassment bleaching my black cheeks red, eyes stapled to the page in front of me. But I did it, I read my poem.

The kid has a point: Why write an essay about poetry? Mr. Ward sees by Wesley's example that the kids in his English class really respond to poetry and can make their own. This kid is a trailblazer.

It probably helps a little that Wesley isn't the most engaged student. He tells us that he's not a huge fan of doing homework, and other kids in class think he's a punk and that he's cocky. Even if it is a bit of a tough guy act, the impression Wesley gives people is that he just doesn't care about school. So when Mr. Ward sees that even Wesley loves Langston Hughes and writes his own verses, he knows this class is onto something.

Forget being a bad boy, Wesley Boone is a poetry pioneer.