August 31st, 2007


Poetry Friday -- Frank O'Hara

This week I went back to teaching -- just one class this fall, in introductory poetry. Usually, folks want to know right off how to get published and rich, but I figure my role is a little less grandiose than all that. 

So I focus on all the varied elements of craft -- the tools at the disposal of the poet -- and I focus on the process and arc of writing -- over time -- and I focus on reading. 

Reading's my hot-button issue because nothing drives me crazier than a writer who "doesn't have time" to read book after book of poetry, but wants the rest of us read his or her work -- with admiration, enthusiasm and awe. 

So I assign a book critique and we take turns reading each other's work and we use a text book. But my favorite way to sneak new poetry into my students' lives is to read it aloud -- each and every class. I usually just pick a book of my shelf and choose about four poems to share -- with very little introduction or commentary. I mean for them to absorb the work rather than study it. 

Last week was Maxine Kumin, next may be Adrienne Rich or Donald Hall, Sylvia Plath or Mark Strand. Or maybe Frank O'Hara. Here's one of my all time favorites:

Autobiographia Literaria
              -- Frank O'Hara

When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of a schoolyard
all alone.

I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were 
not friendly and birds
flew away.

Read the rest here...

And thanks to Literacy Teacher at Mentor Texts & More for hosting the Poetry Roundup today. Head on over and get your fix...