There are many wonderful poets out there, but one of my favorites was someone who is relatively unknown, a poet named Walter Rinder from San Francisco. When I was a twenty-ish young woman, starting out on my own, I often felt the pangs of lost loves while dreaming of my Prince Charming swooping me up on his white horse and riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. Ah…youth!!! Well, I finally did meet my Prince Charming, better described as a Latin Lover, but that was years later and a whole different story.
Anyway, Walter Rinder’s words spoke to me in a way that no other poet did, at least back then. His prose helped heal the pain of heartbreak and gave me hope for the future. One of my favorite books of his, Love is An Attitude was my BFF. I would sit for hours reading and re-reading certain poems, the book was by my bedside and each night, before turning off the lights I would open it to any page and it gave me just what I needed to hear. Then I would drift off to sweet slumber.
As an undergrad, I was intrigued when we read Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I’ve always been interested in the supernatural and this fit the bill. It was fascinating to analyze the meaning of the prose.
One of my special ed professors would read a poem from Langston Hughes at the beginning of each class, that’s where I got the idea to do the same thing with my students. They loved it as much as we all did when we were in college.
I began writing poetry myself, when the mood was right. I found that it helped me express feelings of pain, sadness, nostalgia and longing. I felt better after putting these things down on paper. For me, it was better than a diary.
I believe that each of us has a secret poet inside, all we have to do is let it out. I wanted to do this for my students so I created a poetry resource to use with them, and some were amazed at their work, especially those who didn’t think they were poetic at all. One of my students blew me away with a poem that he wrote, I’d like to share with you here. #poetinsideofus
Azure blossoms at my feet
Beside the road smelling sweet
To the shade of a Sycamore tree
Swaying branches over me…..Whispering
Footsteps coming down the path
An ancient one with wooden staff
Long white beard and cloak blue smeared
Electric eyes not to be feared…Scintillating
A Druid friend from long ago
The magic words sure to know
Staff held high over azure flowers
Secret words of light and power…..Conjuring
Rustling in the indigo bed
Rising up scales, tail and head
Wisdom eyes, majestic wings
Breath of lightning, Dragon sings…..Thundering
Climbing on blue scaled back
Soaring on white cloud track
Snow capped mountains, Seas of sand
Born of air Free of land….Dreaming
So…Why should we teach poetry in school?
- Poetry helps strengthen visualization skills because it enables kids to illustrate images of things that occur in their lives. It does this by utilizing metaphor, imagery and symbolism to describe unhappy experiences, or personal baggage that they’re not yet ready to share.The language used allows them to break the standard rules of grammar and punctuation by giving them a chance to express themselves in an unconventional manner.
- Children love to listen to stories, the same is true with poetry. The latter is especially effective because it teaches rhythmic beat, music, performance, art and sound. Rhythm can also help with reading fluency. Believe it or not, boys as well as girls actually are turned onto poetry, they’re attracted to its rhythm and rhyme. It’s the most tactile of all literature due to its physical nature which activates ones heart and soul. In other words, poetry truly moves us.
- Poetry defies grammar rules, so it’s more easily understood and perceived by ESL students as it allows them to express themselves more effectively, even with limited vocabulary. Moreover, since poetry is global, children/adults can read or listen to it in their principal language, which allows them to bridge both worlds making the language they’re learning easier to comprehend.
- Poetry improves stamina in kids and adults; it stimulates social and psychological learning by giving us insight into issues, situations, and problems that we hadn’t thought of before. A well written poetic phrase can help give us a real #ah-ha moment as it allows us to see a previous experience in a whole new light in the same way our favorite song does. “Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.” — Carl Sandburg
Click Image Below to View a Poetry Resource
This post is part of our We Teach So Hard podcast, click here to listen on iTunes. Don’t forget to read Retta, Kathie and Tracy’s blog posts by clicking the links below.