Admit it–we like poetry
because for the most part it’s a quick commitment. Two to five
minutes we get our emotions stirred, we open up our imagery files,
and we tuck away a line to ruminate on. This is not cynicism,
merely observation. We love, love, love poetry more than we love,
love, love short stories. At least, this is what I am beginning to
surmise as I dole out literary experiences to high school students.
Since I’ve been English literature teachering for the past
decade, I have discovered poetry is amazingly versatile in its
ability to stir up passion in students. Students run
the Richter scale of response of “Just hand me a dull spoon so I
can dig out my eyeball” (LOL–actual quote from a senior) to
“Poetry! I love poetry! Can we write our own poems!” (yet, another
true quote). There doesn’t seem to be much of the middle roading
when it comes to reading or writing poetry. Why is that, I wonder?
My students aren’t sure either. Somewhere between Shel Silverstein and Shakespeare
sonnets the love of verse becomes irrevocably squashed.
I think Billy Collins presented oh so well:
One of the first items of my “I’m-finally-on-summer-vacation” list is to trot down to the local library and leisurely select a few novels to enjoy without guilt. During the year I am either guilty of sneaking my reading in between grading essays or I feel guilt because I am not reading. With no papers in sight for the next couple of months I shall enjoy reading at all hours of the day guilt free.
I tend to mix up my reading, and although I don’t like to make lists, here are a few goals I plan on to accomplish while lounging in the hammock this summer:
1. Room with a View (a reread, the first time I read it too fast determining if I would teach it for AP–the verdict? A resounding “Yes!” The subtle humor and digs at Brits and their habits are delightful–the film caught the spirit well, also.)
2. A really good mystery series–I haven’t found one since I finished my Inspector Evans series by Rhys Bowens. I’m picky though–no bedding, no swearing, no gratuitous violence–limiting, isn’t it? Take it up as a challenge 🙂
3. Classics yet to read: The Sound and the Fury; Middlemarch; Faust (really, I never have); some Dickens, more Shakespeare, and perhaps a Hemingway, and of course a revisit with Austen.
4. Look up current YA–I discovered Hunger Games before the masses did, and hope to find a new trend-setter.
5. Kid Lit: what’s going on in picture books these days, and it never hurts to look up old friends for an afternoon of revisiting.
I’m open to suggestions. Got a good read to recommend? My schedule is wide open until end of August.
Billy Collins captures the guilt-free read so very well in his poem “Reading in a Hammock”. An excerpt:
we part with such sweet sorrow,
the course is spent,
Come again Aprile as would t’morrow.
True–it’s over. Every day the Cricket has Mused her way through National Poetry Month. Thanks for joining and I look forward to next year. Thanks for the stop bys, comments, and new followers.
My favorite poems? Certainly. Glad you asked. Here a a couple I never tire of:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Emily rocks. Hands down, she is ThE Poet who has changed the landscape of verse, that is except for The Bard. Now, as for Billy. He’s cool. He is such a poet pro he’s even been named Poet Laureate (high honors, that). His “Teaching Poetry” always reminds me to NOT beat the snot out of a poem when teaching poetry.
What are your absolute all time favorite poems?