Monday, September 8, 2008

One Thing: Poetry

Last night I crawled into bed at 3:15 AM, exhausted but very proud of the start to the poetry class I'm facilitating on BraveWriter. I taught one poetry class several years ago for Julie, but that was as I was beginning to be taken over by poor health, and much of the class (and that month) was a blur. But this class is quite different. Julie has devised a clever "One Thing" series that run one after the other, one month each, that allows home schooling families to concentrate on one particular element in language arts. Other classes in this series have addressed copywork/dictation, freewriting, grammar, nature journaling, art appreciation, and Shakespeare (which I taught last spring). I have about twenty families in the class, and it should be lots of fun.

In these courses, we basically guide the home school teachers in how to teach this subject to their students. Last night I wrote three posts, one on the "niggly details" of the class as far as expectations, assignments and due dates, what is needed for the class, etc., and another on "What is poetry?" with several definitions, a ton of quotes on poetry and poets, and an ee cummings poem to enjoy -- included were some optional assignments. The first assignment deals with four ways of appreciating poetry without having to know literary terms and technical stuff (which we'll start delving into later in the week), and some poems for differing age levels on which they can practice.

Being the kind of student/writer/teacher that does her best work under pressure, I didn't start writing the posts until almost 11 PM -- but most of the evening was spent in responding to the families who had introduced themselves on the "Welcome" post. I had planned to start earlier in the evening, but I got up from my nap feeling a little queasy, off-balance, and fuzzy-minded, so I watched an episode of Remington Steele with the kids while we enjoyed our Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream (our once-weekly dessert). I also responded to the families while watching the House marathon on USA, so it took a little longer than usual. Yes, I know that I had the entire summer to work on this poetry course, but I always do a better job when I'm right up on a deadline. That adrenaline rush somehow kicks my brain into high gear, and away I go.

I am looking very much forward to four weeks of poetry. It's like giving an alcoholic a bottle of expensive merlot or a diabetic a pint of Ben and Jerry's. I'm addicted to the written word in poetic form, so working on this class, although requiring a lot of effort, will fly by. I had no idea I was up anywhere near that late last night until I glanced up at the clock as the last assignment posted. When I'm so engrossed in something that time slips through my fingers, I know that I'm doing what I truly love and was gifted to do. And, best of all, I got to post one of my favorite poems for discussion, and I'm including it for your enjoyment as well:

"anyone lived in a pretty how town" by ee cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)
they said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain

(From Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1923, 1931, 1935, 1940, 1951, 1959, 1963, 1968, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976, 1978, 1979 by George James Firmage.)
So here's to poetry: that wild, wacky yet controlled way of scattering words on page like one sows wildflower seeds and then waits to see what will germinate, grow, and mature. Perhaps the poetry bug has already nipped at you, or perhaps you have dodged it thus far: either way, it just may get you in the end....

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