Poetry: The Lost Art

Posted: March 14, 2014 in Humanity, Literature

I was at the staffroom lunch table on my prep trying to type out a poem – some ideas came to mind and I never pass on an opportunity to get some ideas out. Some colleagues soon joined me when I remarked that typing a poem on my computer at a lunch table in a staffroom seemed…odd. It wasn’t in a candle-lit room, with a feather-pen, and paper (one vision) or with a journal, a pencil, and sitting up against a tree out in nature (other vision). Who says I can’t be at a lunch table? That’s just it though, isn’t it? This is where poetry has arrived. Really? Ew. In all honesty, I don’t think poetry has to be written/typed in one room or another…but, poetry has changed.

When I teach poetry to my students, they always ask why it’s not popular anymore. My response: Poetry used to be a form of rebellion – it was a way to voice an opinion regarding social issues like politics or religion, or it was a way to communicate one’s thoughts regarding love, death, and all of those other themes of life. So, why use poetry anymore when we can tweet, update our status’ minute-by-minute, blog, or even create a personal website? Where does poetry fit in the many mediums available to us now?

Poetry is meant to be felt and blah blah blah, but I teach poetry very methodically; not on a scale like Robin Williams pokes fun at in Dead Poet’s Society, just…methodically. I teach students how to locate literary techniques and how locating them can help in understanding the poem. We also examine the poet, the title, and the time period to see if those can lead us to a better understanding of the content. They do, in most cases.

Joshua Block, author of the blog post (Re)Creating Poets, says that one of the ways to engage students with poetry is to encourage students to read poems aloud and respond creatively. I wholeheartedly agree, yet this can be difficult when some students simply want to be told the meaning of the poem and are unwilling to take the time to figure it out on their own.  I do, however, ask them to bring in poetry of their own choosing (self-authored or other), which may also include song lyrics. In some cases, students can explain why they’ve selected the piece, while others cannot get past “I just like it.” Are we becoming lazy (as I’ve suggested in a previous post) or is it that poetry is simply unappealing because we all have a voice?

At the very least, teaching poetry challenges students to think in a different way and connect in a way that only poetry and art can inspire.

Poetry is not turning a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have a personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.  – T.S. Eliot (playwright/publisher/literary critic)

Portrait of a Dead Girl – by Dmitri Lee

There’s lots in the eyes that are looking,
There’s much in the heart of the mind.
But if ever the eyes stop looking,
She’d ne’er be a lover of mine.

A face that is now made of canvas,
And lips that no longer taste wine.
My chances, my chances, my chances,
Are off on the clouds floating by.

A frame that is detached, dull, and dead,
I shake with fright and desire.
With Romeo’s soul I am lead,
And down on this world wreck’d of fire.

She watches until I descend there,
And back in a moment or two.
To fight ‘gainst the demons that dwell there,
Then garnish her darkening hue.

But all love’s lost when love starts to peel,
Through this I’m entirely sure.
I will descend, back on my heels,
Then hung on the wall next to her.

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Comments
  1. Marieka Lee says:

    Nice poem….. You never could put your pen down….always thinking…you continue to make us proud😊keep on writing….

    • Bishoy Bebawy says:

      Great Poem Mr. Lee! I like the superficiality of some of the lines, the way you have to ‘dig deeper’ to understand it. Great!

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