I don’t know if Billy Collins has copyrighted the term “Poetry 180″, but since he coined the idea to help teachers bring poetry into the classroom I don’t think he’ll mind (let me know, Billy). I bought his Poetry 180 with the idea of doing a poem a day, only to find most of them too complicated, inappropriate, abstract, or demanding too much background knowledge for middle school students. I have done “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” with the kids, but that’s been a two-day lesson (worth it, but not exactly embedding poetry in what I do daily). I believe in high standards and the power of great art, but finding a reliable (and easy) source has eluded me.
So, here we are.
As to using “dead white males” and “poets with three names”, I have found that those old poems revive students who find poetry inaccessible. They get it, and I’ve found some really fascinating-in-their-simplicity ideas among the old masters. What’s old is new? I think these are what the teacher, poet, reader or student brings to them.
I’ll add as I can, and welcome suggestions. Enjoy and share.
Image of young poet in blog header is Mary Barnard.