Growing up poetry was never my favorite thing to read. I liked Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, but in my mind I also never considered their writing poems. What they wrote was fun. It made me laugh and made me think. Poetry was what I read in school. It was boring and meant virtually nothing to me. I read it because I had to, not because I wanted to. And for a really long time that was the only relationship I had with poetry.
Things started to change my senior year of college. I found poems that sparked something inside me. Stray Dog Cabaret was a collection of poems by Russian authors, and reading those poems something clicked. Poetry, I realized, could be magical. Fitting words together like puzzle pieces could be something really really cool. I loved reading and I love writing and I loved this new way this all fit together.
Even though I had discovered how amazing poetry could be, I didn’t run out and buy a ton of poetry anthologies. I didn’t know where to start. Poetry had been foreign to me for so long that even though I had a new appreciation for it I let it stay a pretty big mystery. I didn’t know what else to do or how to do anything else.
That has started to change. In my job as a literacy tutor I have the opportunity to work with some amazing Language Arts teachers. One of the bigger pushes at the middle school level has been to incorporate more poetry. I’ve been able to see how poetry can be made fun and accessible and how my students can respond and connect to it. I’ve seen them love poetry and struggle with poetry, but it’s been made much more accessible to them than I feel it was made to me when I was going through school.
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately collecting poems that I like. I’ve been combing through Goodreads and looking for other sources. I want to make poetry accessible to all of my students. I want to show them that it doesn’t have to be something that is stuffy and inaccessible. Poetry is alive and well; we as teachers just need to find ways to teach our students that.