Poetry Friday is posted by Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading
The Friday before Thanksgiving, Laura Shovan shared a lovely poem called “Peanut Butter Cookies” (along with with delicious recipe, which you can treat yourself to here). That poem lingered in my memory, and I carried around a printed copy of it for days. I’ve just recently returned from visiting my parents, who are now in their nineties. If you read the poem, it ends with a line that will strike a chord in all of us with aging parents, family, or friends – “the first taste of the last goodbye”. For a poem that begins with “the salty aroma/of peanut butter cookies from the oven”, I found myself in an unexpectedly different place by the time I’d reached that last line.
For a week or so, I mulled over whether I should share this poem with my sixth graders. It was so well crafted, with just the sort of vivid sensory description and feeling that makes for deep reading and thinking. But…that turn in the poem, which had so struck me, might be a bit much for them. Even so, I went ahead with my gut instincts and assigned it for our Poetry Thursday poem.
Poetry Thursday was today, and the way my kids responded to the poem just blew me away. My instinct had been right, this time. Tonight, I sit with my stacks of poetry journals, read through their responses, and have to marvel at the way poetry moves through my students. Each Thursday, they throw themselves into the poem of the week and have at it – savoring the words, delving for meaning, and wondering why they are touched by what they have read, as evidenced by what my Emily wrote, about that turn in the poem and the last line:
“I had seen my grandpa on Superbowl Sunday. He died on Friday. The poem reminded me of this because it never said that the mom was sick. She out of the blue had a stroke. When I read this I started crying because I thought, “What if this happened to my mom?!” This has since become my motto because, if you live life in fear, then you will never enjoy life. This poem is 100% my favorite.”
So, this Poetry Friday, I share a poem about poetry – and I thank my lucky stars that Poetry Thursday remains alive and well in Room 202.
How to Read a Poem: Beginner’s Manual by Pamela Spiro Wagner
First, forget everything you have learned,
that poetry is difficult,
that it cannot be appreciated by the likes of you,
with your high school equivalency diploma
and steel-tipped boots,
or your white collar misunderstandings.
Do not assume meanings hidden from you:
the best poems mean what they say and say it.
To read poetry requires only courage
enough to leap from the edge
Treat a poem like dirt,
humus rich and heavy from the garden.
Later on it will become the fat tomatoes
and golden squash piled high upon your kitchen table.
Poetry demands surrender,
language saying what is true
doing holy things to the ordinary.
Read just one poem a day.
Someday a book of poems may open in your hands
like a daffodil offering its cup
to the sun.
When you can name five poets
without including Bob Dylan,
when you exceed your quota
and don’t even notice,
close this manual.