Let me tell you about my days teaching Freshman Composition and Literature (which I no longer do). I’m not talking about that lit class you loved and wanted to take. I’m talking about the class every college freshman must take – the one they loath.
As soon as I mentioned reading and writing about poetry- my students cringed – not that polite eye roll or try-to-hide shoulder drop. My students moaned, groaned, paled, stiffened, and begged for extra essays rather than have to read poetry.
And then something happened: They read their first set of poems, they came to class; they tucked their heads low to their desks in hopes I wouldn’t call on them, and then I did. I asked the head most lowered (teachers always select the most lowered head, but students never seem to learn that): I asked if they liked or disliked a particular poem.
Trying to not look at me, the students said, “I didn’t like them.”
“Okay,” I said. “What made them unlikable?”
All the students looked at me then as if to say, “How dare I ask what makes a poem unlikable? We’re supposed to like poetry.”
By the end of the section on poetry, nearly every student in the class told me (some out loud, some privately), they had found at least one poem they enjoyed reading – because they found one they understood just be reading. It made them feel good, bad, sad, happy. And that’s the point of poetry: It makes you feel something.
Why am I giving you this long-winded story? It’s okay not to like the idea of poetry, but give it a chance. To that end, I’m including the following links:
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