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adoten's blog

This Fortnight in Poetry Education: National Library Week

Hilary GanHilary Gan is an Education Intern, and an MFA candidate in Fiction at the University of Arizona.

First things first:  April is National Poetry Month, and this week is National Library Week!  It's like a Turducken for poetry lovers.  Our own Alison Hawthorne Deming and Norman Dubie are two of poets.org's featured poets, along with UA-alumnus-turned-ASU-faculty Alberto Rios.

Teachers can find National Poetry Month tips for incorporating poetry into the classroom here; feel free to check out the Poetry Center's lesson plan library here.

Brad Meltzer's article on the unsung heroics of school librarians at The Huffington Post is making the rounds, and you have until April 11 to participate in the six-word story contest hosted by atyourlibrary.org.

Gerry LaFemina claims that poetry in American is experiencing another Golden Age.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Pioneers in Word and Deed

Tim DykeTim Dyke is pursuing his MFA in Fiction at The University of Arizona. He's also an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

As an Education intern at the University of Arizona Poetry Center, I'd like to think that if a school group wants to schedule a field trip for a particular purpose, the inventive educators here will be albe to create a program that can accomodate them. When teachers from a local Tucson elementary school asked if they could visit the library to see the exhibit on Sharlot hall and Hattie Lockett, I said, "Of course." When I wasa told that the next Thursday morning would bring 25 Kindergartners and first graders to the Poetry Center, I anticipated a fun time. I also wondered what exactly a five-year-old or a six-year-old could appreciate about an exhibit that featured poets from Arizona's historical past. What could we do for their field trip that would be useful, fun and enlightening?

To plan the field trip, I began by consulting the Poetry Center website. According to the information provided, Sharlot Mabridth Hall and Hattie Greene Lockett lived and worked at the turn of the 20th Century. Members of the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame, both Hall and Lockett were "women of thought and action, pioneers in word and deed." On the morning of March 8th, I stood around a library case with an eager group of five and six year olds. We stared at leather journals and photographs of an Arizona that might no longer exist. How did I connect the lives of these pioneer women to the lives of these young visitors? Well, I'd like to think that I began by viewing these students as explorers in their own right. I'd like to think I considered them to be children of thought and action, young pioneers of word and deed.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Mongolian Poetry

John DwyerJohn Dwyer is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and blogger for The Good Men Project.  He currently resides in Washington, D.C.

Mongolian Poem - White Mountains

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Monday, April 2, 2012

This Fortnight In Poetry Education: Poetry Out Loud, Video Performances, and Teaching Opportunities

Hilary GanHilary Gan is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, an Education Intern at The University of Arizona Poetry Center, and writer-in-residence at Hollinger Elementary.

I was lucky enough to be present for the Poetry Out Loud Southern Arizona Semi-finals competition--I even scored a seat by the outdoor propane heater for the last half. I am a fiction writer who knows very little about poetry and who tends to favor the out-of-vogue and terribly inappropriate narrative poetic stylings of Charles Bukowski. I like it when ugly language is repurposed into something beautiful, and I like finding beauty in grittiness.

My mother is an English teacher and says that the best poems for high schoolers are the old, tried-and-true sentimental poems: 'O Captain, My Captain!" and so forth. Sentimental rhymers were the poems most of the students chose to perform.

Robert Oliphant argues in his article "Speech, Hearing, and America's 100 Most Memorable Children's Poems" that the memorization of poetry helps children develop phonemic awareness, learn multiple connotations for words, and become "civilizationally literate."  He goes on to explain that rhymes allow children to practice distinguishing between consonants, while literary devices use words in different contexts and allow students to expand their understanding of meaning, as well as expanding their vocabulary to include words that are uncommon in their neck of the woods.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Elijah

Rita OldhamRita Oldham is a senior at the University of Arizona, majoring in Education.

My mom was a teacher, and she would often come home from school with stories to tell. Listening to her made me feel as if I was watching a TV series. I grew to love the unique characters that filled her classroom, and I felt that I knew each one as if they were my closest friend. Yet, I rarely met them. They were simply a figure of my imagination, an idea of what I hoped them to be. Each student was different in their own way, and had their own struggles and triumphs, yet each touched my mom's heart. Somehow, despite the craziness of each day, my mom would come home inspired and reassured that she was in the right place in her life. I was in awe.

Years later, I was interning at an elementary school and I was...in agony. I wasn't sure where my mom's angel of inspiration had come from, but it was definitely not with me. Kids were flying from wall to wall. I had to jump from desk to desk, dodging the bullets of pens and pencils. I was anything but inspired. I came home exasperated, distressed, and plagued with emotional and mental fatigue. I whimpered to my mom, "I thought you said teaching was rewarding, invigorating, and life-changing. You never told me it was a fight for survival...literally!" My mom smiled at my statement, oblivious to my serious undertone. She only replied, "Stop looking for a moment of reward. The prize comes when you least expect it." And, as always, my mom was right.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Review of Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge

Christy DelehantyChristy Delahanty is a former Poetry Center intern, and recent graduate in Creative Writing and Linguistics from The University of Arizona.

It takes a certain attuned perspective to see "a strange maroon pelt" where a "vinyl coat in the car door" really is. Or "red math" for a digital clock. It is this propensity for the eerie everyday that lends Paul Guest's poetry a special slant. His most recent collection of poetry, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, offers a dark look at everything from coupons and monsters to the etymology of galoshes.

Though most of what you'll find written about Guest and his poetry pushes the sad fact of his permanent childhood paralysis as a sort of map key to his writing, such singular pointing misses a wealth of nuance. Namely, it misses Guest's ability to take imaginative jaunts to a refreshing - if absurd - extreme, which cannot be narrowly attributed to what the book jacket calls "a life forever altered."Neither can the specific but applicable shards of historical knowledge be named symptoms of tragedy; lines like "better to cover you / beside the eastern sea / with lapidary jade / fat emperors ate hoping not to die" pile in like trivia into a treasure box.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Poetry Experience

On Saturday, I came to work an hour late. My manager asked me why I was so late, and I said, "I'm sorry, I was volunteering at the Poetry Center." His response was, "There's a center for poetry?" This had not been the first time I had received that response, and it probably won't be the last.  As an English major, I have read many different poets, but most people hardly ever focus on poetry. Some even go as far as saying poetry is a dead art, but what I saw at the Poetry Center today proved that poetry is still alive, and will continue to grow for future generations. There are people out there who still see the importance of poetry, and they want to spread their vision to the next generation. The biggest problem with poetry is that most people are ill-informed on the subject. Most people hear the word poetry, and think of rhyming and exalted speech, but poetry is so much more than this, and it is through events, like Family Days at the Poetry Center, that teach the public about poetry.

Family Days

 

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Just Paper and a Pencil

Sarah MinorSarah Minor is an MFA candidate in non-fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Corbett Elementary.

On a warm Saturday morning this September I headed to the Poetry Center to lead my first Family Day activity. The event fell during the Poetry Center's Speak Peace exhibit and we had planned peace themed activities combining visual art and writing for the families to participate in. Having only worked with high school and college-aged students before I was, of course, terrified of young children. Not young children exactly, but the idea of inspiring young children to sit down and write, to come up with a message about peace--a topic adults have a hard time discussing--all while overcoming the limits of spelling and handwriting. What if the activity was too simple? What if they grew bored quickly or couldn't sit still? And how old were third graders again?

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Rodari's Cards of Propp: How to Invite Race Discussion in the Classroom

Lisa LevineLisa Levine is an MFA candidate in fiction at the University of Arizona, and writer-in-residence at Sam Hughes Elementary School.

In a Difference and Equality brown bag this fall, two writers brought up the issue of silence. One of the writers described an entire undergraduate class in which the students analyzed a novel (whose title I have forgotten, I'm sorry to admit) known for being, among other things, about the themes of race and identity. The students, she said, got through a full hour of discussion in which no one ever mentioned the subject. In an era where the classroom is a relatively safe place to study the murky waters of race and identity, why aren't students willing to drink?

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Review of The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe

Erin LiskiewiczErin Liskiewicz is the marketing and publicity intern at the UA Poetry Center, and a creative writing senior at the University of Arizona, specializing in nonfiction. She will be graduating this spring.

Marie Howe is an American poet and professor at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. Howe was a fellow at the Buntin Institute at Radcliffe College, and also received the National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in 1992 and the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1998. Her works have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, The Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review. She will be reading at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday, February 16.

Howe's latest book, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, merges the metaphysical onto everyday life and examines the presence of the sacred in "ordinary time," where "One loaf = one loaf. One fish = one fish." By doing this, Howe reshapes the way we look at the biblical ideas that are common to many of us. She re-illustrates the idea of unconditional love in "How You Can't Move Moonlight" and portrays a more tangible faith in "The Snow Storm." Ultimately The Kingdom of Ordinary Time asks, where is the kingdom of God on earth? What is holy? And who is a part of God's kingdom?

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Monday, February 13, 2012
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