Wednesday, May 13, 2009

isn't poetry great?

a couple of great poems to use for the classroom:

Stink Eye by Cathy Song
this is a really nice poem because it helps out (helped me out) with a little bit of a bullying study and writing assignment. i have middle schoolers (sixth graders), so i don't assume them to do too much with this beyond content discussion, but it's also great for looking at dramatic monologues and voice for those in high school.
Dream Variations by Langston Hughes
i mean, come on. Langston Hughes is an old standard. "A Dream Deferred," which you should never ever discount, gives me chills every time i read it out loud. but "Dream Variations" is really nice given the title and its implications when you consider the poem and the poem's refrain "Black like me" and "Dark like me".
I also want to put this to consideration:

"Another pair of gilded transpirations" by Joshua Beckman

Another pair of gilded transpirations
kept me happy all night -- the bay aglow with revelers,
those shore hollow stones making home in your chest.
Cold waters that wash down such olympian quandaries
and sorrowful cascades set free. "Daniel, now hold that
cup carefully." That's the sort of thing mother
would say to me, the sun playing about the witch hazel
in the courtyard. With an emerald magnetism
the dew settles. I have been writing lately
on the grief of the body. I enclose
about my head memories and am in due course awoken.
In direct relation to the sun, wind, and rain
my apple tree produces.

now you can call me strange. you can say, "but i don't get it!!" well, that's not my problem! well, in a way yes, in a way no. what you see here is a thirteen line almost-sonnet. not in the traditional sense, of course, rather in a very interesting combination of the sonnet tradition and the jarring-narrative/non-narrative play that apparently has begun to set in as a trend in some poets under 40 these days. in the traditional sense, this is a perfect study of a sonnet: you have a narrative (albeit it strange) that seems to have some sort of trajectory (albeit strange) in the beginning. then, the latter half of the poem, starting with "I have been writing lately..." takes a turn (something that the Petrarchan sonnet does frequently, from stanza one to stanza two, or what the Elizabethan sonnet will do at the ending couplet). in the non-traditional sense, we have a sonnet that's only thirteen lines! i think that this can be used in terms of studying contemporary uses of the sonnet (in high school, maybe in a senior AP course), but also of the idea of narrative and non-narrative lyrics. it's a great exercise for a creative writing class, or a class studying different types of poetry to mimic or examine this technique of writing a poem because i think it creates a deeper kind of poetry, something more sudden, haphazard-looking, and meandering. students should be encouraged to meander in their writing and to break their thoughts suddenly if the poem calls for it. it's a great stylistic attribute, and will add character to the students' writing.

maybe i'll do this as a nice little featurette every once and again...yes?

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