221. The Art of Making Possible: Nancy Scheibner

Is hope trite? My sister shared a parody pro-Hilary Clinton piece, which took me down the rabbit hole I'm sharing now because it ended with this poem.  Back in 1969, when the real Clinton was Welsley's valedictorian speaker, she, too, ended her speech with the last lines of "The Art of Making Possible" (and, being... 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 →

Someone Is Writing a Poem: Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich is not someone who I read. She IS someone I have always liked. Here is one example of how Rich made her way into my life. After ten years at it, the folks who put together those "Best American Poetry" books asked Harold Bloom to put together an anthology of the anthologies. At... Continue Reading →


85. Sound and Sense: Alexander Pope

I do not celebrate National Poetry Month. Obviously, it's not because I don't like poetry, but instead because anything worth teaching is worth transcending. Black History Month, which started the "Month" trend, clearly did the job by demanding a cursory address of the importance of black Americans to our history. Likewise, National Poetry Month leads... Continue Reading →


80. Why I Am Not a Painter: Frank O’Hara

I think of this poem as above most high school students, yet every time I use it a student will come to me months later and compare their daydreaming or writing process to it. Amazing. So, you want to bring it up during the week. When the kids are not writing, mention the artistic process.... Continue Reading →


72. I Write in the Laundrymat: Marcy Sheiner

One of the problems I have with students is their recognizing that writing is a normal activity, and that many people do it every day. Some come from families that hardly speak, much less write, much less write more than a laundry list. I fight the battle that to have books in your house is... Continue Reading →


60. She Walks in Beauty: George Gordon Byron

Ah, another "Dead Poets Society" poem. Poor Knox. Recently, I went away for my eleventh anniversary and found Leslie Pockell's collection "The 100 Bet Love Poems of All Time". To be honest, I am not a huge poetry fan; I enjoy the analysis and poetry as a jumping off point for larger discussions, but I... Continue Reading →


53. The Red Wheelbarrow: William Carlos Williams

This is one of my favorite poems. In short, Williams is an Imagist. What you see is what you get. By taking a snapshot, Williams slows the reader down and makes them picture the scene. He adds no meaning, no symbolism, no metaphor. To paraphrase Popeye, it is what it is. My students have tried... Continue Reading →


46. In a Station of The Metro: Ezra Pound

I am in Paris at the moment, and have spent hours a day on the Metro getting from my hotel to the center of the city. With two young children, they are slow on the stairs, count the stops every stop, and fight over who gets to push the button that opens the door. So,... Continue Reading →


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