Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Sorry, Poets

It is National Poetry Month. . .and yes, I am a nerd! I love my Poetry Unit that my students GET to do. I do NOT make students go through long poems, analyzing every line, trying to figure out what it all means. Instead, we read some cool poems, listen to some cool songs, and I teach them a little about poetic devices with some fun activities. I am not a believer in any way that students should be beaten over the head with poetry.. .which is why that everything seems to be going well.. . .until .. . . .Elizabeth Barrett Browning, "How do I love thee?"
I think this is an important poem, not because it is particularly good or profound, but because of the pop culture references that the kids need to know. What a shame that so much of satire toady is missed by teenagers because they don't have the original art to compare to.
As my students look down at the poem thinking, "what the heck does breadth mean?" One student notices that I have the years that Browning was alive next to her name (1805-1861). As the other students discuss why this poem is "cheesy," this student suddenly blurts out "It took her this long to write the poem?"
Followed by laughter, some of it my own (Sorry student).
That was almost as good as one student who wrote a metaphor (another poetic device we are practicing) that went like this (OH! And don't worry, he read it aloud)-- "Friends are like butt cheeks, they try to separate, but they keep sticking together." Thank you, student. I'm sorry great poets, they are trying.
Another student today told me that Bob Marley needed to stop crying and stop taking acid. Huh?. . .ah, excuse me, student, Bob Marley is dead. . and really, crying? Student said Marley needed to pick up a gun and fight! Did I mention, we have also talked about irony in class lately?
Who knows what they are going to do to poor Langston Hughes tomorrow?

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