220. Good Bones: Maggie Smith

What makes something go viral? It's a good question to ask your students.  If you ask them about "Literature with a capital 'L'" they won't know what you're talking about.  Classics?  Old books?  Books librarians shove in your hand, that have gold seals on them and are not good but good for you?  Personally, I... Continue Reading →


204. Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note: Amiri Baracka

I know, another suicide poem. But this poignant and ends with hope. I write this a week after Amiri Baracka died. His death made me think about his post 9/11 poem, "somebody blew up america". It's quite the polemic. A study in anger--a dream denied (as Langston Hughes observed) just explodes, and Baracka is plenty... Continue Reading →

202. The Glass Essay: Anne Carson

Okay, this is a really long poem. Okay, this poem is very mature and serious.  Not with language, but with ideas and suicide and death.  Not for kids, perhaps, but.... In the previous post, I wrote about how publishers use different covers to attract different markets.  What brought me there was Sylvia Plath's "The Bell... Continue Reading →


199. A Dirge: Christina Rossetti

Did I mention that I wrote a mystery where the protagonist is a teacher? Shameless Self Promotion   When I was young and enjoyed the idea of terse verse and clever writing, I held a fear that old age meant reading genre fiction.  There is a lot of bias in that statement that you can... Continue Reading →


193. Remember: Christina Rossetti

Yes, this is a death poem. But, as it is June and I am ready to watch my 8th graders graduate and move on to high school in a few weeks, much of the sentiment holds true for them and the parents who are watching their little babies grow up and move out. A task... Continue Reading →


192. Self-Pity: D. H. Lawrence

Four weeks until graduation. Cue drama. My career began at a crazy school. It was a private boarding school for behavior problems, and we spent a lot of time in groups talking about our past and feelings; more time spent than we did in the classroom. For these kids, they needed it. We unpacked bags... Continue Reading →


191. Those Winter Sundays: Robert Hayden

My father died last two Tuesdays ago. As odd as it sounds from someone who keeps a poetry blog, I don't immediately look to poetry for inspiration or comfort. The morning after the Boston Marathon bombings, for example, the news on television kept bringing up images for me of the science fiction show "Fringe". Popular... Continue Reading →


155. Book 7, Epigram: De senectute & iuuentute: Thomas Bastard

Okay, I clicked the link to this poem because of the guy's last name. It was from a list of poems about youth, most of which were older people looking back at their "loss of innocence" moment, and much too sexy for the twelve-year-olds in my class. I figured Mr. Bastard might be hip and... Continue Reading →


154. The Old Clock on the Stairs: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As we walked our students out the bus, a fellow teacher exclaimed, "It is great to have the kid's back!" It was clear to me that this is why he teaches. Personally, I love talks about pedagogy, data analysis and the other esoteric discussions that fill meetings. Reading books and bouncing ideas and lesson plans... Continue Reading →


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