Poetry at Center School

November 17, 2014

Dear Friends,

Last Monday, I left school in a whirlwind for New York City, to fete my mom, who was having a birthday.  I left you with a poem in my stead.  It’s her favorite one, an e.e. cummings piece about spring…  She can recite it by heart.

Apropos of this (and here I was thinking I was being kind of random!), this week the Uppers kicked off their latest Lit unit, one on Poetry!  Each teacher is leading a four day workshop on a poetry form or style.  For example, Josie, the 8th grade homeroom teacher is covering environmental poetry. Here’s an example her class wrote together just today:

Rainy Day Poem
By Jude, Sovahn, Sierra, Amelie, Osvaldo, Sulli and Josie
A dead worm in a puddle is like
a child’s first scribble in a pink marker
someone trying to make dirt out of pink chemicals
a pink string  splashed in a pond
the drag marks of the broken wing of a regal falcon
the gooey intestines of a chipmunk
pink frosting on a chocolate cake
a tear
a stream of blood from a belly button piercing gone wrong

I was so charmed by this poem!  It was delivered to me by a rain-covered, beaming teacher who was psyched to brag about her budding poets.

I shared with her this wonderful article, which I will now share with you.  Why?  Because within it, some of the strategies for reading poetry it shares, seem to be insights we can apply to our kids.  Here’s an excerpt (where it says “poem” read “child”:

“Try to meet a poem on its terms not yours. If you have to “relate” to a poem in order to understand it, you aren’t reading it sufficiently. In other words, don’t try to fit the poem into your life. Try to see what world the poem creates. Then, if you are lucky, its world will help you re-see your own.”

“A poem cannot be paraphrased. In fact, a poem’s greatest potential lies in the opposite of paraphrase: ambiguity. Ambiguity is at the center of what is it to be a human being. We really have no idea what’s going to happen from moment to moment, but we have to act as if we do.”

Read full Atlantic article here.

And so… in closing, I borrow from Shakespeare, “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”

Charlie Spencer, Head of School
Contact Charlie: Email
Phone: 413-773-1700
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