This week we will explore English sonnets. It sounds stuffy, but when we stomp out the rhythms in class with our feet and drag our back legs like peg-legged pirates, sonnets seem to come to life. My students will "discover" the format on their own by analyzing sonnets written by Shakespeare and sonnets written by former students. They aren't as stuffy as one would imagine, but they DO follow some very specific rules. I always enjoy how my students can take a formal structure and turn it on its end with a contemporary subject. You might even hear a few sonnets or odes at our Poetry Reading on November 11th.
Every year I go to conferences where other teachers lament that their students "hate" poetry. I am fortunate. Though some may profess disinterest, I see something different in class. When I see a student smiling because of a well-chosen word or a clever subject, I realize how lucky I am to teach my students. It is not always thus in other places. I watch my students share their work with each other. Would a student who "hates" poetry do that? No. How great is that?
Next we move on to narrative poetry. Have you heard "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service? Remember "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?" "The Raven?" "The Highwayman?" I wonder what stories MY students will tell!