Monday, January 18, 2010

Speaking of Poems...

...have I told you all/do you know about the Poetry 180 website? I bet I have, but I want to mention it again. I just love it because it makes poetry accessible to school children...and adults, frankly. The point is to have schoolchildren read one poem every day school's in session, adding up to 180. Sure, I don't like some of it, but a number of others appeal to me because it's not high-falutin' or impossible to understand. It's a nice change from the lofty poetry that gets shoved down your throat as a student, the poetry you have to analyze and examine and find all the metaphors and symbolism and uuuggghhh. Granted, I still make them do that, to some extent. I kind of have to. The greatest irony was looking at the first poem, by former Poet Laureate (2001) Billy Collins:

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

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.

...And then we examined it. But not too closely. We looked at the first thirty and I enjoyed "Did I Miss Anything", "The Partial Explanation", and "The Distances", to name a few. Check them out. I often feel daunted by poetry and this website helps me find access to it as well. This is also why I have the kids write "found poetry", which is simply poetry created from words that someone else has written. Again, because I don't consider myself a poet myself, I find creating poetry difficult...but if you give me words to work with, I can come up with something. It's why someone created magnetic poetry for the fridge--that little bit of inspiration. I equated it to Legos (I have to get creative to reach the kids): Even if you all have the same set, what you do with them is quite different. Check out this site to see what others have made up--although I warn you, I have no control over any of the content, so I'm not responsible if any of it is questionable. Some of it's quite lovely. Here's one I came up with that comes from the Amazon.com review for Reading Lolita in Tehran. I promise nothing in terms of quality, but I'll give it a shot:

The Book Group

An inspired blend

A moving testament

with the ability to change and inspire people's lives

Azar Nafisi invited seven of her best female students to attend a weekly study of
great Western literature

banned by the government

forced to meet in secret

They met to talk
share
and burst into color

These books "were not a luxury but a necessity."

Try one yourself!

1 comment:

Leslie said...

"Beat it with a hose"...

Fantastic.