I just had a delightful conversation with a 91-year-old friend of mine, who happens to be an award-winning poet. She and I made a magical connection several years ago when I invited her into my classroom to talk about poetry. She led the students on a lesson of discovery when they created a progressive poem for our school nature trail. It was inspiring then to watch her unlock the words and feelings within my third grade students. Who knew they could feel so deeply and express themselves so eloquently? Mildred did, that’s who.
And now, several years later, she called me up out of the blue to talk about a concern she has. It is a curriculum concern. She talked with several young adults in our community over the course of the summer. Most of them could not remember ever writing a poem, some did not even know the name Robert Frost. I can imagine, to a poet, this must be an alarming thing to hear. She wanted to know if it is true that poetry is not being taught any more. I told her that poetry is taught at the elementary level as a genre and that we introduce the different types of poetry. The ones that are more formula based, like haiku, acrostics, and quatrains. Her comment? “That is cookie cutter stuff.” I had to agree, but much of what we teach now is cookie cutter stuff. Some of that is due to the standards we live and breathe. Some of it is due to the fact that as teachers, we never were taught much about classic poetry, or classic literature, or how to write either poems or essays, so we hesitate to teach something with which we are not familiar. Her desire is that we dig to touch the deeper places where kids feel and devise their thoughts…to draw out of them profound ideas to mull and consider in order to make them thinkers, not just repeaters. I am in agreement with her thoughts on this issue. How to make that reality? I am not sure. But I am quite sure of one thing, she is not going to let this drop. There is a literary conference coming up this October in Sautee at which she is one of the speakers. You can be sure that her voice will ring out clearly about the importance of poetry in our society. I, for one, cannot wait to hear what she has to say, because one thing I know about Mildred is that she is a deep thinker with profound ideas. Hmmmm… I wonder why?
Beyond Words
By Mildred Greear
you have listened to my words
be quiet with me
still listen
to my silence

One thought on “Poetry

  1. Quote Robert Frost
    People who read me seem to be divided into 4 groups:
    25% who like me for the right reasons;
    25% who like me for the wrong reasons;
    25% who hate me for the wrong reasons ;
    25% who hate me for the right reasons.
    Its that last 25% that worries me.

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