Monday, January 3, 2011

Music of Words

Every year at open house night, I go over the curriculum with the parents of my students. I tell them that poetry is my favorite unit, but for my students, it is a love/hate relationship. They either love it or hate it, there is no in between. What I don't tell them, though, is that it's always the kids you least expect who love it. The hulking boys already growing stubble in 8th grade, the ones more at home on a football field than in English class. The ones whose papers are written sloppily in pencil, with torn spots from where they erased too hard. Often times, those are the students who love it. It makes no sense, but then, I suppose that's the beauty of poetry. It doesn't have to make sense to reach you.

Whether they love it or hate it, I always teach my students that just like songs are meant to be sung, poetry is meant to be read aloud. I also teach them that in poetry, there is no right or wrong at how a poem makes you feel. There is no right or wrong in what speaks to you in that poem. It should be no surprise, then, that when Sarah and Steph both posted a link to this poetry reading, I swooned.

After I shared it on Facebook, Sarah commented and said, "I love that we can all just keep sharing this from each other's profiles, because we all hear something different in it."

That one single sentence epitomizes everything I've always believed about poetry, and I just wanted to say YES YES YES.
This is what I heard:
"for the kid who's always late to class because he forgets the combination to his lockers, for the girl who loves somebody else. Shake the dust."
I know that kid. The kid who stumbles into class late every day because he lost his backpack again. Because he forgot his locker combination, even though school has been in session for months. I know his face.

"Do not let a moment go by that doesn't remind you that your heart beats 900 times a day and that there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean.
Do not settle for letting these waves settle and the dust to collect in your veins."
And this. Do not settle. Do not forget to be alive for a single moment of your life. What a glorious reminder as we go into a new year..

And you. What spoke to you?


Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

I think at the very end- every word of it, taking a hold of that door and opening it and then walking through... that was it for me.

And then a little bit of it for each of my children, and really, so many people I love.


Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...


(I know some late night cereal eaters, and a few two year olds that speak half English and half God...)

Jamie Lynn said...

YES. Shake the dust. Those are the words I need for my new year resolution. That's what I've been looking for. Beautiful.

"This is for the two-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-god." I will remember this next time I get frustrated with my 2 yr old. It's not his fault, it's mine.

Thank you.

Heather said...

so beautiful, don;t consider myself a lover of poetry, but thank you, thank you, thank you...

Kaycee said...

"speak every time you stand so you do not forget yourself"

"two year olds that speak half English and half God"


Sending this to my English teacher friend (who just covered poetry and I heard all about the poetry in AP Lang during my AP Chem class from my kids) right now!