Look, I’m knee deep in the end of the quarter. That means annoying but necessary meetings and too much grading. It also means a little burnout. Couple that with some other things that I prefer to give my attention to, and the recipe is one highly distracted professor. I don’t want to profess anything. I just want to be left alone to play.
I intentionally time my end of term ennui with the poetry unit for several reasons. One, I don’t want to work too hard. Two, I want to play with what I love: poetry. Three, my students have decided to trust me and stay (or they don’t trust me, and have bailed). When those three things happen at the same time, we do poetry. My way. No recitations. No rhyme schemes and counting syllables (well, there’s always a joker that writes off-color limericks). Instead, I have students select any 5 poems from the hundreds in the book, and share them with the class. All they have to do is find something to accompany the presentation of the poems. I encourage them to be creative and think outside the box. I’ve gotten amazing things…musicians who write music for the words — artists who paint pictures — rappers who perform the poems. It is a very interesting leap of faith that can only happen at the end of the course.
I am ALWAYS pleasantly surprised. Yesterday, a delightful woman, maybe a few years older than me, presented a beautiful tribute to her children. She found poems that captured their personalities and she wove a story about them throughout the presentation of her selections. Finally, she ended with this video, which is a mother reading the things her son said as a child. It is called a “found poem.” They are fun to construct. The idea is that you look for words and phrases as they exist when you find them, and you put them together in a meaningful way. I am startled at the depth of the conclusion in this found poem constructed by Naomi Shihab Nye from her son’s statements. Enjoy it.
It reminds me of Sarah Reinhard’s tweets.