Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pick-a-poem

So I decided to give my students a break from our usual write-a-poem-a-week routine, partly because we have a visiting writer in class next week & won't be workshopping, and partly because it's fall, and to welcome fall, I thought we'd do something more celebratory & communal. I asked my poetry seminar students to type out one poem that serves as a kind of touchstone--one poem that they each return to again and again, or have memorized so they carry it always, one poem that still gives them goosebumps or some kind of visceral response. And to write a paragraph about why they've made their particular selections. We'll read them around the table & talk about them on Monday. I'm hopeful that we'll make some interesting connections, cross-connections.

But this morning, in my foundation seminar, in our warm-up table talk, I realized that several of the students hadn't read much poetry outside of whatever had been assigned to them in high school, and were less likely to have favorite poems in mind (much less in their journals or iPods). So I amended the assignment & asked them to browse both Poetry Daily and Verse Daily to find one poem that grabbed their attention (and then to type it out, write the same paragraph as in Group One).

Does anyone carry poems in their iPods? How awesome to randomly shuffle from Sharon Olds to Yusef Komunyakaa, Sonia Sanchez to Robert Lowell to Alberto Rios and everywhere in between. . .

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In the Stadler Center, a series of black-and-white portraits line the hall: photographs of each of the poets-in-residence since 1981, from Carolyn Kizer to Marilyn Chin. We're in the midst of selecting poems to accompany each portrait. (I wish we had the budget to print nice broadsides of each poem!) I get to pick poems by Kizer and Betsy Sholl. Betsy got William Matthews and Jean Valentine. It would be hard for me to pick a Jean Valentine poem: so many feel like part of the same dream language. . .

1 comment:

kay said...

I actually only have one poet (Michelle Sewell) in my iPod at the moment, but that may change now. And on further reflection, I have a lot of Shakespeare's sonnets read by people like Alan Rickman from When Love Speaks . So, are there any Ron Mohring poems I can download?