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George Roberts

George Roberts

Born: Chicago, IL, United States
Heritage: European American

Each of us chooses a life to live and that’s how we express who we are and what our dreams are. Art does that for me.

George Roberts

My name is George Roberts. I was born Chicago, Illinois. When I was asked to come here and talk with you all, I began right away imagining you, imagining your faces full of curiosity about me in the same way I’m curious about you.

I’m curious what you have written in your notebooks already about how we’ll spend our time together. I’m curious about the song you’ll write and what you’ll learn about what goes into a song and what goes into making a piece of art.

I grew up in a family where my father would take us on trips every year during spring break. We’d go to someplace new and learn something about that place. And as I got older and went to college, I traveled in the summer time on my own. When I got done with college, I went and lived in Paris, France and went to school in Paris, France for a year.

I then got drafted into the Army and I lived in Germany, in the Army. And when I lived in Germany and when I lived in Paris, I traveled all around Europe. After that I came back and decided, well, I’m married now, and I have a young son, I probably ought to figure out how to earn a living. I became a teacher and for the next thirty-two years, I taught right down the street at North High School. I was a literature and writing teacher at North High School.

During all of that time, that interest I had in the Arts kept tumbling around inside me. And kept interesting me. So on my own time, I would continue to draw or paint or make sculpture, just to explore it. Not that I was going to become an artist and earn my living that way. What happened when I did art was I was able to ask myself a question, something I cared about knowing, and then use the art to find an answer.

I am involved in the community. I belong on a couple committees to help our community do-good work. I have a number of former students who have now become teachers themselves. They email me or they call me to talk about teaching and I’m kind of a mentor or an elder for them.



Honoring George Roberts

(Honoring George Roberts)


Curiosity, curiosity
I wonder what it’s like to be a waterfall
You eyeballed me out in the hall
Curious about you, curious about me
Curiosity will set you free
Curiosity, curiosity
I like to make paper out of where I’ve been
To gather up branches - plants, and twigs
With leaves off trees –memories fill me
Curiosity will set you free
Curiosity, curiosity


You can take an old building, all boarded up
Some family, friends, will fix it up
Build a studio, build a gallery
Curiosity will set you free
Curiosity, curiosity
Don’t call me mister
If you know what I mean
In a relationship there is no privilege
Equal learners, you invited me in
Not a question of permission to be friends
Curiosity, curiosity


Alan Page was a football star
Now Supreme Court Justice of the law
Who didn’t look back who looked ahead
To students like you these words he said
Curiosity, curiosity
Like Louis Armstrong
who played the trumpet loud
To find words with musical sound
To paint, to dance, to write poetry
To do what you love will set you free
Curiosity, curiosity


To carefully – take your time
With hearts, hands – body and mind
Putting words down with a paint brush
Like Monet – I’m in no rush
Curiosity, curiosity
Get a thesaurus – hardbound
And see how many words can be found
That are first cousins to the word
In school today which you have learned
Curiosity, curiosity


“In the cool, blue sunlight
of an October afternoon an old woman fights
with a cow
Peace is declared
long enough to exchange the vows
of milk
and together they give birth
go winter” *

Curiosity, curiosity


Words & music by Larry Long with Mr. Gregory Young’s 4th Grade Class. Elizabeth Hall International, Minneapolis Public Schools.

*Last verse. Poem by George Roberts
All rights reserved

Copyright Larry Long Publishing 2012 / BMI