Middle School Hosts Author R. Zamora Linmark

R. Zamora Linmark

Having a popular author, whose books many students may already have read, come to Poly is always a favorite Middle School event. On February 9, R. Zamora Linmark was the featured author at Middle School Assembly. Linmark also met with Upper School students after school in the library.

The Filipino American author has written three novels, Leche, Rolling the R’s, which he adapted for the stage, and The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart, his first novel for young adults. He has also published four poetry collections. Linmark has been the Writer-In-Residence at Phillips Academy Andover.

Linmark’s most recent book, The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart (2019), features themes involving ethnic and sexual identity. The story focuses on Ken Z., who has a disappointing experience of first love and looks to the words of Oscar Wilde for comfort.

After the Middle School Assembly, Linmark said, “The students were amazing. They were able to read the multiple layers of issues and themes that I tackle in the book. From gender and sexuality, to border and boundary restrictions, to censorship, to the creative process. Such astute reading was reflected in their questions that were so intelligent. As the author it was very rewarding to know they were able to connect to the book, not just with the characters, but the themes and issues.”

In reflecting on his day at Poly, Linmark said, “From meeting with creative writing classes working on haikus and observation writings, to the luncheon conversation with Mr. [Paolo] Javier’s class, to the assembly, which was just phenomenal—the opportunity to hold a conversation with middle graders and read excerpts from the book with them—and the final reading in the library.”

Jasper Whiteley ‘25

Jasper Whiteley ‘25 was part of the luncheon group and the library event. “I found speaking with Mr. Linmark really interesting as it opened my eyes to aspects of life in Hawai’i that I had not previously considered,” Whiteley said. “From reading Mr. Linmark’s Rolling the R’s, I had already been exposed to aspects of racial, gender, and sexual identity in Hawai’i, which I found fascinating as it showed difficulties of intersectionality, which I had often ignored. However, this new understanding of Hawai’Ian culture was further developed by my conversation with Mr. Linmark, as he described the difficult language conflicts between the preferred language of the government, English, and the people, Pidgin. His usage of the controversial language Pidgin in his literature was a format of nonviolent rebellion, which I found admirable, as it was a great angle to attack the Hawai’Ian government’s stubborn stance on the language.”

Javier said he was pleased that his ninth grade class “got to speak to and hear from a living author whose work and experience speaks to what we are currently learning. Fingers crossed we will be able to teach his books next year, as my kids responded to what he had to say.” He added,  “I also attended the Middle School assembly, which was absolutely terrific and inspiring. Good job, Middle School  teachers for welcoming and engaging with our visiting writer!”