I’m supposed to like teaching literature and that should include poetry. It should include poetry. I should like teaching poetry. P-0-E-T-R-Y.
But I don’t.
National Poetry Month should fill me with a certain type of English teacher glee. Like Shakespeare’s birthday or the National Book Festival. It should be sacred. Instead, I try to pretend it isn’t happening.
Poetry is difficult to teach well. If it doesn’t rhyme they don’t think it’s poetry. If it rhymes they think it’s easy to emulate. If it’s about love it’s too “gooey,” and if it’s about fruit, chickens or Emily Dickinson it’s “inconsequential.” While the joy of poetry seems like something easily captured in Disney’s multiple ads for What a Poem Is, I’ve rarely seen students enter my classroom feeling so enormously captured and captivated. It’s easy to see why sometimes it seems like a good idea to employ the gimmicks of Dangerous Minds.
The focus of this week is to examine poetry through a variety of lenses, specifically with the goal of teaching media literacy via poetry. For students who frequently question the role of literature, especially poetry, this week’s focus will serve as a supplement to pre-existing poetry units.