Thursday, November 16, 2006

Introduction to Poetry

I came across this poem in Poetry 180 and found it explanatory of the problems that I've always had reading and teaching poetry. Along with Barbara Helfgott Hyett's weeklong residency at Punahou School, the poem sparked in me a refreshed interest and approach to poetry.

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins

Besides having to explain what a color slide is, students seem to really respond to the poem (although in the spirit of the poem, I don't ask them to).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed with your blogging! I will have to try this poem with my classes. Thanks for the great idea. Aloha, your partner in crime