Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Intro to Poetry 101

I used to be quite the English student. I liked to read the intellectual pursuits. I searched out the difficult bits. No Coles Notes for this girl. At least, not until I had read a selection and had convinced myself I had picked out all the juicy, tricky, hidden bits and pieces. I used to wow my teachers with talented bits of creative writing. And then I'm not so sure what happened. Well, I suppose high school Enriched English happened. That was a misnomer. It was more like Double The Workload English. So I suppose the downward spiral started there. The creative writing petered out. The literary selections at my bedside turned into college texts and handwritten workout schedules. Then when I entered the real world, my reading material consisted of Policy and Procedures manuals, a rotating stack of teenagers' resumes to review and pool schedules on Excel spreadsheets. In years since then, occasionally the odd intellectual pursuit falls into my lap. I enjoyed The Life of Pi and the delicious way it tumbled around in my head for a long time afterwards. I am enjoying that my kids ask for stories by authors the like of Pierre Burton and C.S. Lewis. It's nice to see depth again.

I like to see the book selections for the Ontario Library Association's Silver Birch Awards. The kids have been involved with this program for a few years now. It's a perfect opportunity to see some new materials - some that we would not have been drawn to on our own - that are usually well written, stimulating and enjoyable.

For a number of months, I have flirted with the idea of poetry. Mainly due to the beautiful bits and pieces I see Karen taunt me with. And, as usual, I need God to throw a train wreck in my path before I sit up and notice a good idea. This time, the train wreck was in the form of Raiden, bringing home this book:

There's some really great poetry in there! The kids just ate it up. They each picked a favorite selection. They are practicing reading it. Outloud. They asked me to read from it. After they had already sat through me reading the whole thing to them. We had to look up a picture of the author. We had to listen to a podcast of her talking about the writing of the book. Because we had to hear what her voice sounded like.

And then this happened:

That is Kori reading to Raiden from Science Verse a witty and intriguing collection of poetry (and for you lovers of great and correct poetry, please remember that it's meant to be funny) about everything science. It just sort of jumped off the shelf at me while I was looking for something 'literary' in the 811.6s See what I mean? My path is strewn with train wrecks that the more alert, observant person would probably contrive to create on their own with less hassle and amazement...again, things I am known for. O, if you do happen to get your hands on Science Verse, make sure it's got the CD that goes with it. There's a little pocket inside the back cover. Jon and Lane, the authors, do a bang-up job of presenting the poems...and a few extra hilarious bits.

So, with very little trouble, I'd like to announce our official introduction to poetry. The kids are engaged. I'm motivated. Noone is complaining. And the kids are reading. Sometimes outloud. Who knew?

1 comment:

Cristina said...

Science Verse is a good one. My daughter likes to read Gobblegooky, the reworking of Jabberwocky.
I have an excellent poetry writing book for you to look for. "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?" by Kenneth Koch. He gives poems from across a wide spectrum of styles and then offers ways to introduce them to young poets. Very user friendly, gives examples of poetry from his class.
By the way, there are still comics this week! I do 3 every week on one sheet of paper. At worst, I'll have new strips on late Monday/early Tuesday.