Poetry Friday: A poetry website and one by T.S. Eliot

A few weeks ago, while on the hunt for on-line middle school poetry sites, I came across Middle School Poetry 180:  “Extraordinary poems for every young adult day”  http://middleschoolpoetry180.wordpress.com/about/.   I loved the idea of poems for the sophisticated young adult – someone who loves to linger on poetry, enjoy its word play and ruminate on its meaning.  There are imaginative and unusual lesson ideas as well, one of which was based on Stephen Fry’s Language – a work in  kinetic typography.  I’ve seen poems presented this way before, but there was something particularly arresting about this one (perhaps it’s Fry’s English accent?!).  The words tumble and skip across the screen in arresting combinations and permutations.  I can see my students working with a poem of their own in this way…really having to think about the position and emphasis of each. 
You can watch this video here: http://youtu.be/J7E-aoXLZGY 

One poem from their collection also had special significance for me – having named many cats in my lifetime and on the being on the verge of having to do so again:

The Naming of Cats
T.S. Eliot

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there’s the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey–
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter–
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that’s particular,
A name that’s peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover–
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name


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