Poetry Experiences

As I review the poetry I'm teaching this upcoming school year, I see many poems referring to experiences my students have not enjoyed.  For example, Spencer's lovely Sonnet 26 "Sweet is the rose . . ." refers to eglantine, fir bloom, cypress, broome-flower, and moly--none of which my students recognize.  Or Seamus Heaney's "A Kite for Michael and Christopher" uses that wonderful kite imagery, which (pardon the pun) falls so flat for students who have not flown kites.

Yes, there are many young people who have not flown kites, seen the sea, know the Pleaides, have a chimney, viewed a cow . . .

So what to do? I went through all my poems, listed the things and experiences foreign to my students, and am now waging an active campaign to introduce a few of these things before the poems come up.  We will definitely be making and flying kites.

However, I do think poetry can create a taste for some of the things described in the poetry, so all is not lost if the kids don't know a cow from a horse, sea from mountain.

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