On a Mission

My colleague is currently teaching an American Literature II this semester (second half of a survey class that many of our Humanities and Education majors take).  Today, I received an email from her telling me that she is a bit dismayed about how many of our students hate (not merely dislike) poetry.  I’m not surprised by her email — or by her students’ reactions.  I have known my students hatred of poetry mostly because I teach creative writing which yes, does indeed, incorporate poetry.  Most of the time I can get them to at least appreciate poetry.  But not always.

My colleague is on a mission.  She wants to post one poem on Angel (It’s our school’s online course management system) for a month to get our students to read more American poetry.  I have lots of poems in mind for her — but for those of you who teach undergraduates (either at the four-year, or two-year/community college level), I would be interested in seeing titles (and maybe links if they are online) of poems (along with poets) that your students have especially liked.  Or maybe…if you can remember the first poems you personally fell in love with, that would be great, too!

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4 Comments »

  1. Sylvia Plath’s “Metaphors” made a deep impression on me in high school. The images are at once so clever, apt, & affecting, those 9 lines taught me how strong a punch a short poem can pack.

  2. Carol Said:

    “Bleeding” by May Swenson is amazing. Also “Michiko Dead” by Jack Gilbert–both of these made quite an impact to me.

  3. I’ve had success in the past with prose poems in the classroom…maybe because they are less intimidating without line breaks. My students loved Baudelaire’s “Get High” for obvious reasons, and anything by Russell Edson.

    I remember the first poem I truly fell in love with was “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens. I read it obsessively–the sounds and the density of it were a revelation.

  4. My students have always loved “The Colonel” by Carolyn Forche. We have had fun discussing form: is it prose poem, is it flash fiction, is it journal entry? Many of my students lately have been from Latin American countries, which makes a different teaching experience from my South Carolina students of a decade ago.

    I’ve been thinking about this need for a list. I may write a longer post on my blog in a few days–I’ll comment here again when/if I do. It’s a worthy thing to create such a list.


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