I Love Teaching Poetry

I’ve been thinking about my teaching: what works, what doesn’t, and what falls inbetween.

This semester in Literary Methodologies, we’ve been reading a lot of poetry and spending a great deal of focused yet languorous time on each poem. The thing I love about teaching poetry is that there are few “wrong” answers, there are only poorly supported interpretations, or for that matter, poorly phrased questions. The best poems are richer for their ambiguities. Today we spent an hour and a half on “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by e.e. cummings. We talked about how we get born, and we meandered, and we talked about marriage, and we wandered, and we ended up talking about how grandparents die and how we forget and remember them. I don’t think a minute was wasted.

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  1. Could I see your syllabus sometime? I’m curious about what your required texts are. Are you assigning anthologies, collections of poems by single authors, online poems? What about books on how to read poems? I’ve been meaning to check out Pinsky’s intro to reading poetry book for some time. (Maybe Nick is the person to ask about that particular title).

    Lately, however, I’ve had no time for poetry. For professional reasons, It’s all novels and, of course, lit crit and theory. Sadly, poetry has become a ‘luxury’ that I’m not able to indulge so much. Strike that. Tonight, for instance, during my ‘free time’ I could’ve been reading some poetry instead of responding to an anonymous post on my blog. What I should say is that I need to make an effort to read more poetry. Last night’s bedtime reading was aphorisms by Blanchot. They were very poetic, but still prose.

    But I digress. Glad to hear that you’re enjoying your teaching this semester, Scott.

  2. Scott,

    Wanted to drop in a hello. And say that you have become a part of my
    syllabus, your world is my student’s world. At least for a few days. Rock Rock on.

    cheers, Jason

  3. Hi Scott, long time no communicate with. Good to hear you’re enjoying teaching, and poetry no less, which I’m concentrating on writing lately. I have something in the latest issue of The Iowa Review and a couple poems to appear in some future journals. I’m still working for the govt. So, nice Web site and good luck with your teaching/work.

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