Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Practice What You [T]each

During the final unit of my literature course this semester, I have asked my students to keep a record of poetry they are reading outside of that specifically assigned on the syllabus. Their motivation to do so (other than because I said so) is to find a modern poet (ideally, a living poet) on whom to base their research essay. For that assignment, I ask them to read at least eight poems by the poet they select, then narrow to three poems for their analysis of style. They will also complete a shorter, more informal essay, an idea I took from Carol Jago, her "Goldilocks" assignment: find one poem that is too hard for you, one that is too easy, and one that is just right. To set a good example (and because I love it anyway), I am recording my own reading (though I'll admit some slip by uncharted. I'm listening to Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac every morning, receiving emails from Your Daily Poem and from Poem a Day, attending readings, and perusing the April Poetry magazine, for which we are planning a book club-type discussion at the end of the month. Since I'm participating, as usual, in Poetic Asides's poem-a-day challenge, I'm not only writing my own, but reading dozens every day. By now, lots of these poets have become friends--a few I've met face-to-face, but most only through cyberspace. This time of year, when I am overloaded with "nondiscretionary reading" (i.e. essays for grading), what a pleasure to be able to grab a quick read, a poem or two, sandwiched between my other duties and chores. If time allows, I like to pass them on.


Cozy in Texas said...

Love your post. There are many modern poets whose work is wonderful. Sheryl Nelms is in my writing group - she's the most published poet in Texas and I love to hear her read poetry she has written.

Frank 'n' Sandy said...

Hi, Cuz! Oh, how I love the Goldilocks assignment! Wish I were still in the classroom. I bit the bullet and wrote my first poem for my class, the first poem that I've written in twenty or so years. It's sappy, but it completes the assignment. Maybe the next one will be better. As always, I love your post! When shall I change the sheets for your visit? HaHa!