Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Teaching (and writing about) the Poet's Life

A new school year is upon us, and it's time to write again.  The summer months passed far too quickly and my fingers never quite found these keys.  I pecked out emails on my iPhone, but I confess it was a summer of action and travel.  Now I write and reflect.

This fall I am teaching a senior English elective on "The Poet's Life". We will read delve deep into a handful of poets while sharing favorite poems and poets, finding new favorites in the process.  We will follow the advice of Elizabeth Bishop to an aspiring poet circa 1960:

Read a lot of poetry - all the time... Read Campion, Herbert, Pope, Tennyson, Coleridge - anything at all almost that's any good, from the past - until you find out what you really like, by yourself.  Even if you try to imitate it exactly - it will come out quite different.  Then the great poets of our century - Marianne Moore, Auden, Wallace Stevens - and not just 2 or 3 poems, each in anthologies - read ALL of somebody.  

So we began the course with summer reading, Jay Parini's biography of Robert Frost: A Life.  Parini spoke on Brian Lamb's Booknotes on C-SPAN in 1999.  Frost was onsidered the most celebrated American poet from his rise to fame in 1915 to his death in 1963; Parini spent twenty five years researching this biography.  In 2008, Parini taught two teen vandals from Ripton, VT more than a few things about Frost and poetry.

Now, we will read more Frost poems.  We will listen to Frost recordings.  We will watch video ("Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening") of him too.  We will take a closer look at "The Road Not Taken" and see if we can find a deeper understanding of the work by knowing the man.  We will also memorize a favorite Frost poem.  We will also create each create a Prezi presentation of one Frost poem.

We will also compare Frost to:
Wallace Stevens - Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Marianne Moore - Poetry

We will also post to a class blog. Check out my first post: http://whypoetrymatters.blogspot.com/

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