Friday, April 10, 2015

Poetry Friday: How to Wreck Poetry (Inspired by Michael Rosen)

Inspired by Michael Rosen and "Dear Ms Morgan: your guidance is a mini-syllabus on how to wreck poetry",  and with an additional and lovely bit of inspiration from the follow-up letter, "Where Go the Boats? A poem in a little child's head."

{A disclaimer: This is not a shot at teachers. I know teachers would love the freedom to teach as they see fit. I live with and passionately love a particular English teacher who happens to be my husband. It's not the fault of teachers that they are often being cornered into teaching to tests.}

How to Wreck Poetry
by Karen Edmisten
(with apologies to real poets)

Force and enforce it, require and grade it.
Suppress the mind wandering,
stop all their pondering.
Find the right answer
(You know's there's but one!)
Dissect it and quiz them.
You're under the gun.

Never mind that the riches
of luminous words
now mean nothing to them.
Sublime's for the birds.
There are standards we've set.
It's your duty, you see.
You'll make them retrieve and infer
then they'll see.
No, it's not about beauty.
Oh, no, it is best
that they learn at a young age
it's all for the test.


Laura Purdie Salas has the round up at Writing the World for Kids.


And, courtesy of Atticus: 


Tabatha said...

Great poem, Karen. I love rhyming "luminous words" and "Sublime's for the birds" :-)

Nice video, too.

Ruth said...

Great post!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

I hate to say this...but you nailed it!

Mary Lee said...

No offense taken. You got this just right. It's a hard time in education right now. Holding on and waiting for the pendulum to swing back...

laurasalas said...

Love this passionate response, Karen! I confess to mixed emotions. I like that poetry's in CCSS because it means many teachers who have avoided poetry are somewhat forced to finally include it and that libraries can allocate some money to poetry books, making it more available to kids. But, of course, the approach of teaching to a test--and especially that one right answer issue--drains the magic out of it. I feel bad for the passionate, committed teachers who already love poetry (and all forms of literature) and connect kids to it. Sigh. No easy answers, but we here in the U.S. certainly need some changes...

Karen Edmisten said...

Thanks, all. Laura, I agree with your mixed emotions because I, too, want poetry to be included (along with all kinds of art), and I totally agree about the magic being drained when poetry is reduced to be a bit of something to be tested on. So I will keep hoping for the magic of visiting poets (like you) to make a difference in classrooms. :)