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Why do we teach poetry?


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#1    Sherapy

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:36 PM

I tutor a few high school kids in Literature and as of late my tutee's have had to analyze poetry; then write their answers in poem form. The question my tutee's ask is, " why do I have to know /do this stuff?"

It would be great to hear from UM members as to why you like poetry and what does it teach you?

For me, poetry adds a novel way to look at life in ways,  that I would have  never even thought of. It also helps to impart a vocabulary to be able to describe an ocean, or a sunset so I can share it with another  etc etc..

IMO, It's a really hard question! Because how does one inspire teenage boys to consider reading poems on occasion, let alone write them!

Help!!!!!

Edited by Sherapy, 26 April 2012 - 06:38 PM.


#2    Goodnite

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:48 PM

Good question. As an adolescent male I dreaded reading poetry-unless of course it was Dr. Suess. Is that poetry? Oh well, Not an easy answer is to be found. I would think that either one wants to learn or they don't, sort of like algebra.

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#3    arenee

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 06:56 PM

I am also a teacher and no offense to anyone out there, but poetry drives me crazy.  Or at least assignments on it do.  I cannot tell you how many times I've heard teachers ask, "what is the author trying to say here?"  Isn't that the beauty of poetry?  We can only assume what he/she means.  I feel it is a wonderful thing to introduce to our students but in my opinion, there is no reason they have to know it.  I don't ever use it and I can't imagine of a time where I will ever NEED it.

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#4    sarah_444

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:02 PM

High School years can be awkward, and poetry can be a wonderful outlet for self expression in those awkward times. (To those who learn from it and enjoy it at least)

  I think it's taught not only to introduce the subject to students but because it's part of having a well rounded education in language and literature.  If students are taught to appreciate short stories, plays and novels then poetry should be included as well, IMO.  I wish I would have learned more in high school, other then some stuff about Haiku I don't actually remember much.  It would have been nice to have an elective for some kind of poetry class as there is for other art and music options.


#5    arenee

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:12 PM

View Postsarah_444, on 26 April 2012 - 09:02 PM, said:

High School years can be awkward, and poetry can be a wonderful outlet for self expression in those awkward times. (To those who learn from it and enjoy it at least)

  I think it's taught not only to introduce the subject to students but because it's part of having a well rounded education in language and literature.  If students are taught to appreciate short stories, plays and novels then poetry should be included as well, IMO.  I wish I would have learned more in high school, other then some stuff about Haiku I don't actually remember much.  It would have been nice to have an elective for some kind of poetry class as there is for other art and music options.
At the middle school here there is a poetry club.  Yes, it's after school and not part of the curriculum but many students enjoy it.  Every year they participate in Poetry Jam where they can read their poetry aloud and compete in different competitions in the state.  It's quite interesting and fun for the students.

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#6    sarah_444

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:20 PM

View Postarenee, on 26 April 2012 - 09:12 PM, said:

At the middle school here there is a poetry club.  Yes, it's after school and not part of the curriculum but many students enjoy it.  Every year they participate in Poetry Jam where they can read their poetry aloud and compete in different competitions in the state.  It's quite interesting and fun for the students.

Something like that sounds perfect for the students who enjoy it and want to continue their learning.  :tu:


#7    Sherapy

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:55 PM

View PostGoodnite, on 26 April 2012 - 06:48 PM, said:

Good question. As an adolescent male I dreaded reading poetry-unless of course it was Dr. Suess. Is that poetry? Oh well, Not an easy answer is to be found. I would think that either one wants to learn or they don't, sort of like algebra.

I think it is and who doesn't love Dr. Seuss.


I tutor a 2nd grader and he loves Dr. Seuss' .  I do think it is  an artwork of  language, for kids.
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Edited by Sherapy, 26 April 2012 - 10:22 PM.


#8    Sherapy

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:57 PM

View Postsarah_444, on 26 April 2012 - 09:02 PM, said:

High School years can be awkward, and poetry can be a wonderful outlet for self expression in those awkward times. (To those who learn from it and enjoy it at least)

  I think it's taught not only to introduce the subject to students but because it's part of having a well rounded education in language and literature.  If students are taught to appreciate short stories, plays and novels then poetry should be included as well, IMO.  I wish I would have learned more in high school, other then some stuff about Haiku I don't actually remember much.  It would have been nice to have an elective for some kind of poetry class as there is for other art and music options.

Sarah , that is a wonderful point, it is a wonderful way to get out awkward feelings as a teen, I sure did. :tu:

Arnee, I hear you  doll, this is a tough sell especially for boys.   :rofl:



A good friend of mine who is a College Professor of Literature contributes this for us:


"So... Why poetry? Again I'll answer that it is to broaden the understanding the Art of Language. Consider Ezra Pound's "In a Station at the Metro": Read these essays -
http://www.english.i...pound/metro.htm

Edited by Sherapy, 26 April 2012 - 10:14 PM.


#9    markdohle

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 11:07 PM

When in High School I liked poems like "The Divine Comedy", or "Evangeline" because they were stories and did not really know they were poetry when reading them.  I seldom read poetry, but try to write it.  It seems to come from a different part of my soul, allowing me to speak from a deeper place than I normally do.  I do not ryhme for some reason, and still read little poetry.  Funny, I attempt to write it, but don't read it.....silly rabbit am I :whistle:.

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#10    emily77

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:04 AM

First, I would teach them to read poetry.  



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.


Then, give them really good poems to read.  I recommend Bukowski to teenage boys, but as a teacher you probably cannot do that!  LOL  

Spelling

My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
spelling,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.
However.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

Margaret Atwood

and I agree with Octavio Paz.  Sadly the awesome formatting will not stay when I post, but..

From A Tree Within


               between what is
and what is not.
                        It weaves
and unweaves reflections.
                                          Poetry
scatters eyes on a page,
scatters words on our eyes.
Eyes speak,
                    words look,
looks think.
                     to hear
thoughts,
                see
what we say,
                     touch
the body of an idea.
                                Eyes close,
the words open.

Translated by Eliot Weinberger


#11    little_dreamer

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 12:16 AM

The best poetry can express in a few lines what might take many pages of prose. It's like a painting made out of words.   And I'm not even a big poetry fan.

I am another anonymous face in the crowd. I am just another tiny wheel in the machinery of the world I live in.

#12    seller2006

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 01:43 AM

Great question!!

For me Poetry is a way to express my inner feelings or or my intellect stance on something, it also makes me feel like opening my mind to a different style of thinking, i am 20 years old, a 4 or 5 yrs ago i said it was useless as-well and no i argue the contrary.  It expands the mind, use a different side of your brain, different style of thinking, helps me organize my feelings and thoughts as well. just  what i think , sometimes it helps me blow some steam. I write both hip hop and poetry and its all been super fun.

Great question!!

For me Poetry is a way to express my inner feelings or or my intellect stance on something, it also makes me feel like opening my mind to a different style of thinking, i am 20 years old, a 4 or 5 yrs ago i said it was useless as-well and no i argue the contrary.  It expands the mind, use a different side of your brain, different style of thinking, helps me organize my feelings and thoughts as well. just  what i think , sometimes it helps me blow some steam. I write both hip hop and poetry and its all been super fun.

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Check out some of my raps.. http://www.unexplain...log&blogid=3016

Check out my Concious Hip Hop, http://www.youtube.c...Adealist/videos

#13    Englishgent

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:15 AM

I hated poetry at school and agree with Arenee in that I could never understand how this was going to assist me in my future life.
I also do not like poetry that does not rhyme. Could never see the point in that.
However, at the age of 40 (odd) I started composing a few poems just out of boredom one day. I tended to use humourous childhood memories and quite enjoyed having to think of rhyming words to fit into the poem.
I found it came quite easily and I actually started to enjoy writing them.  They wont win any awards, but who cares. It;s a great way to get the mind working if you have nothing else to do. lol

Here is an example.  ( I used to live right on the seafront and spent most days on the beach as a child)

I like to look along the beach
For things to carry home.
I came across a hole, which was
surrounded by a stone.

I picked it up and held it
in my grubby mit*
And placed a finger in the hole
To see if it would fit.

I thought it was the perfect size.
How wrong could I have been.
If I dont get this stone off soon,
my finger will turn green.

(mit*  =  An English slang word for 'hand')


#14    Left-Field

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:01 AM

I started writing poetry at a young age (around 13), but I must admit, I never cared to read much of what others wrote until later on in life. And even then, the poems posted by others here is all I really read at the moment.

Part of the reason I didn't like reading them for school assignments is because the teachers often wanted us to give are views on what the poem was about, only to tell us how we were (usually) wrong in our beliefs.

The other reason I didn't care for it much is because what we read often tended to be "dated." I realize some old poems are very well known, but for younger kids I think they'd enjoy poems more if they were able to read ones written in a prose they could better understand.

View PostSherapy, on 26 April 2012 - 06:36 PM, said:

IMO, It's a really hard question! Because how does one inspire teenage boys to consider reading poems on occasion, let alone write them!

Tell them there are a lot of females who will "appreciate" them more for being able to quote, and write, good poetry. :innocent:

I'm half-joking with the comment above, but since you did single-out teenage boys, there are some who may take more interest if they learned that to be true.

On a more serious level though, when I started writing as a teenager it was a means for me to deal with all the crazy things running through my head and the difficult circumstances I was struggling with at that time.

As a male, I must admit I was concerned that if my peers knew I wrote so many poems they may mock me, but that was partly due to the fact I struggled with anxiety as it all ready was.

In general though, I think a good way to encourage them to start is to let them know that they are the only one the poem needs to have meaning to in order for it to be relevant.

It shouldn't matter to any poet what others think of their writings, especially when just beginning.

The only reason one should care what others think is if they are writing them with the primary intention of them being for others to enjoy - or they truly want some helpful critiquing.


Edited by Angel Left Wing, 27 April 2012 - 04:23 AM.


#15    Englishgent

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:11 AM

View PostAngel Left Wing, on 27 April 2012 - 04:01 AM, said:


Part of the reason I didn't like reading them for school assignments is because the teachers often wanted us to give are views on what the poem was about, only to tell us how we were (usually) wrong in our beliefs.
Tell them there are a lot of females who will "appreciate" them more for being able to quote, and write, good poetry. :innocent:


Hi Angel Left Wing.
Yep, I had a similar problem at school with the teacher saying I was wrong. But, I thought poetry was ''in the eye of the beholder' so to speak. What one person sees in a poem might not be what another person sees, so IMO the teacher is wrong to say that.  It's a bit like these (I love myself) art critics when you here them say, ''Ah yes, well the artist was obviously depicting (this or that)'' when really they are only giving their own opinion on the subject.  Show them a painting done by an elephant, but dont tell them it was by an elelphant......then we see them for what they truly are lol
As for your last comment regarding females. You are quite right, although my poetry could never be classed as good. The fact that you try is enough sometimes :)





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