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I'm an Associate Professor of English Education. My time is spent preparing to teach, teaching, reading, writing, working with pre-service and practicing teachers, serving on various committees, and trying to keep my office from over flowing into the hallway.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why I care about poetry

No, they do not ask your students to write poems on the end of course test. But writing poetry can do so much more for you than writing about integrity in a 5 paragraph essay. When you use poetry in your classroom, students get to play with language. They get to feel the shape of the word, hold onto the meaning for a while, weighing whether it is really what they mean to say. The sub genres of poetry are endless. Villanelles, sonnets, free verse, and our students' favorite, haiku's. Poetry writers tell stories, paint pictures, explain situations. With shape poetry they get to mold the form of the poem, perhaps into a house or a flower or a spiral. They get to listen to the sounds of words for staccato, vibrato, innuendo. Writing poetry allows them to push themselves into places they can't go in the essay.
I hope that the future teachers of writing I work with will see poetry as not just something to consume, dissect, and critique, but also as something to create, finesse, and read aloud. Teach students to write poetry, then when the time comes for them to write that sterile essay on the end of course test, maybe they'll remember some of the lessons of language learned in writing poems.