As so many children go back to school, there’s been much discussion about it on the web. My days of sending children off are long gone but not the memories of their days in school. Combine that with some poetry discussions and one of those old school memories emerged. But I’ll get to that later. The truth is poetry surrounds us. From the the youngest of children’s books to the songs that we love to sing, there is poetry.
But for some reason, if you say poetry to most school-aged children, they will shriek, cover their ears, and close down their brains. Maybe because they’ve never been shown how much poetry touches their lives or how exciting it can be.
My daughter decided to whine one night at dinner about how boring it was to study Edgar Allan Poe. (OMG! Can you hear my deep sigh? I knew what was coming.) My husband almost jumped on the table. How could anyone call Poe boring? The man was a genius!
My daughter prepared to defend her position – she lost before she had a chance. My husband began to recite The Raven. Both our girls sat stunned at their father’s rendition.
The next day, my daughter told her English teacher that her dad loved Poe and could recite The Raven. The teacher asked if he’d do it for the class. My husband said surely and then asked me if I’d get some black material and make him a grim reaper-sort-of hooded thing. At seven o’clock, I’m running to the local hobby store to buy a few yards of black material. The next morning, he left for her school expecting to do his thing and go to work. The surprise was on him.
The teacher politely introduced him to the class. There he was in dress slacks and a white shirt, looking very much like a father who worked in an office. (He was a computer guru…um, developer/programmer.) As he donned his black (think pillowcase with arms and a hood – I had two hours to buy the material and make this) costume, he told them a wee bit about Poe. Then he started.
Low and slow he began to recite The Raven. He was such a darn thespian/clown. No one stirred. The whole high school classroom sat glued to his every word. And when he had finished he told them don’t just read it, READ it, breathe life into it. Get caught into the emotion of the words, because poetry is a form of expression, it will make you laugh, sing, cry, sway, dance, think, wonder, or fall in love.
He never did go to work that day. He was passed from one English teacher to another, each clamoring for him to recite The Raven to the students. He wasn’t certain how many times he recited that poem, as he lost count along the way. But the effect was always the same. To the students, this was just another dull piece of literature and Poe was just another boring author, until someone breathed life into it. To hear it with emotion, changed their perspective. (I can picture him flapping those long sleeves and making other dramatic moves. His voice rising and falling depending on the line.)
The teacher called at the end of the day to thank him and then called back much later to tell us that every class he had visited and changed. A noticeable change in attitude towards the classics and literature in general. They were seeing things with new eyes, looking for those sparks and ways to breathe life into it.
If you’ve not read The Raven recently, you’ll find it HERE. Take a moment and see if you can breathe life into it. Can you find the deep despair and torment of a man who has lost a lover? Writers write and good writers breathe life into what they are writing. Poe breathed life into what he wrote.
There are many greats in the arts. Some have done it with paint or stone, others with film, and some with words. Today there are plenty of talented writers who write poems or stories that touch something inside of us. Is there someone you love to read? Do you keep a few authors in your watch box and wait for their next book? Tell us your favorites.