I want to share my current favorite poem with you. It’s “Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins. I’m sure it will be familiar to many of you, but I enjoy reading it over and over again. I hope you will too.
Introduction to Poetry
BY BILLY COLLINS
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.
The rest of the poem tells what actually happens. It isn’t pretty. Here’s the link to the whole poem where you can read the end.
As a former high school English teacher and the mother of a high school English student, this poem really speaks to me. The question that I return to again and again is how do we teach our students to read poetry “like a color slide” or to “walk inside the poem’s room?” How do we avoid teaching them to torture it? I hear so many kids say they don’t like poetry and I think what they mean is I don’t like the grisly effects of beating a poem to death.
For more Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.