Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Poem A Week

As a former English teacher, I realize that I may be in the minority on this one, but I love poetry. I like that it is challenging, economical, vivid. I like reading poetry for the same reason I like watching professional sports: it is mesmerizing to witness something I will never be able to do. I will never be able to crush a serve at 100 mph and I will never be able to write a decent poem.

Of all the things I assigned my students over the years, the poetry writing homework is the only thing I feel guilty about to this day. Cruel and unusual punishment. Of course, one could argue that they exacted their revenge by serving up some seriously mediocre verse that I had to read, comment on and grade. Every once in a while, a student would write something lovely. But most kids were like me - fundamentally lacking in poetry writing skills.

If anything, though, reading pretty lame poetry for so many years, has sharpened my appreciation for poetry by actual poets. Given my love of quality verse, I was thrilled to find's feature "A Weekly Poem Read by the Author". This week the selection is "Roses" by Billy Collins. Even if the very mention of poetry makes you flashback to an unfortunate English class many moons ago, give it a listen. It will take about a minute. If you have more than a minute, read some of the comments - many of which appear to be written by budding literary critics and/or literature professors. I found them at once interesting and comically earnest. Definitely worth a look.

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