Halfway through college, I still hated poetry.
I kept it hidden pretty well. You’re not supposed to hate poetry if you’re an English Education major. You’re supposed to love anything to do with writing and uphold all of these classic poets and authors who have been upheld since (what feels like) the beginning of time.
But mostly, I got bored reading poetry. Sure, it was something I was capable of doing, but it definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed. Like most students, I looked at poems as a short piece a writer double-dipped in things like “metaphors” and “conceits” before giving them to teachers to use as a way to make their students’ heads hurt as they tried to figure out the “deeper meaning” of each poem. Poetry just seemed like a lot of work.
Then Ted Kooser came to do a reading at my college.
I only went because my English professors were providing extra credit for those who attended. Then I promptly squeezed the arms of my chair as hard as possible for the next hour or so as Ted Kooser read a variety of his works.
I did not realize poetry could be like this, I thought to myself. See, Ted didn’t really seem to worry about rhyme or meter or that type of thing. His sole concern seemed to be finding ways to relate everyday moments in ways that made you stop and think. To recognize something and describe it in a way that you didn’t expect but made you blurt out “Exactly! That’s exactly right!” once you heard or read it.
And that’s when I realized that I didn’t hate poetry. I just hadn’t found the right poet until that moment. I proceeded to buy and eat up all of Ted’s books. I talked with professors and researched online and found other poets who wrote in a similar vein that I liked. Poets like Billy Collins, Donald Hall, Naomi Shihab Nye, Taylor Mali, and Tania Runyan.
Many young adults don’t enjoy poetry, but you can help them find find “their” poet and discover the joys of poetry.
I started writing poems and sending them out in the hopes of getting published. I sang the praises of poetry wherever I went. Here are some ways I’ve tried to promote poetry in my classroom and library: Continue reading How to Help Teens Discover Poetry