Saturday, July 30, 2011

How To Read a Poem

I love reading a good poem.  I love teaching seventh graders how to love reading.  I'm still working on a way to get seventh graders to love reading a good poem.  I believe a key component of teaching is modeling, so this is how I devour a poem.
  • I read the poem, listening to the words that swim off my tongue.
  • I go wash dishes. 
  • I think about the poem while I wash the dishes.
  • I go back to the poem and read it again. 
  • I fold laundry and think about the poem.
  • Sometimes, I listen to someone else read the poem
  • Then, I think about each line and how the lines tie together.  I think about the precise word choice by the poet.
  • I make an imprint on my brain of my connection to the poem.
Or sometimes, I just read a poem and makes an imprint on my heart, as did this lovely verse today.

Drugstore*

by Carl Dennis

Don't be ashamed that your parents

Didn't happen to meet at an art exhibit

Or at a protest against a foreign policy

Based on fear of negotiation,

But in an aisle of a discount drugstore,

Near the antihistamine section,

Seeking relief from the common cold.

You ought to be proud that even there,

Amid coughs and sneezes,

They were able to peer beneath

The veil of pointless happenstance.

Here is someone, each thought,

Able to laugh at the indignities

That flesh is heir to. Here

Is a person one might care about.

Not love at first sight, but the will

To be ready to endorse the feeling

Should it arise. Had they waited

For settings more promising,

You wouldn't be here,

Wishing things were different.

Why not delight at how young they were

When they made the most of their chances,

How young still, a little later,

When they bought a double plot

At the cemetery. Look at you,

Twice as old now as they were

When they made arrangements,

And still you're thinking of moving on,

Of finding a town with a climate

Friendlier to your many talents.

Don't be ashamed of the homely thought

That whatever you might do elsewhere,

In the time remaining, you might do here

If you can resolve, at last, to pay attention.


*Source:  The Writer's Almanac

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