Saturday, December 8, 2007

Today's Assignment: Read a Poem or Do Something Else

I think it's a good idea to read a poem today. Here's one by Billy Collins called

"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.

Here is another one by Billy Collins. Billy Collins was the poet laureate a while ago. He established a program called 180 designed to bring poetry reading to high school students - one poem for each of the 180 days of school. I love these poems. I can understand them. Maybe I have the mentality of a high school student. Duh. In any case, here’s one from the 180 collection called "My Life" by Joe Wenderoth. This poem by Frank O'hara is one of my favorites. Wallace Stevens often uses big words but this poem doesn't go over my head. I have lots more that I like.

Don't read these if you don't like them although they are short, not too much commitment, not like reading a short story or an article in the "New York Times Magazine". Read some other poems that you do like. Or do something else that you find compelling. Maybe read one tomorrow.


Jill said...

It's not often that poems make me laugh out loud, but this one did

sharryb said...

I haven't read much by Billy Collins--thanks for sharing this. I also really like My Life. I'll read more at 180. I used to teach high school. Even wrote a poem about it.