Why study poetry?
‘The answer is that we are alive. To be alive is to be full of emotion and passion and opinions and beauty and anger and hope and dreams and fears. To be human is to have the desire to express one’s self in any form we can find.
Poems are expressions of what is inside each of us. Each poem is written for a very good reason, whether it be because someone close to us has died and we are suffering or because we have just had our first child and bringing them into the world was an event we will never forget. We all have experiences that can be translated into poems.’
“In addition to the psychological and intellectual reward poetry can provide, reading it can have practical value. Studying poetry can be a source of enhancing reading and analytical skills. Understanding poetry demands that one pay close attention to text, especially to diction, grammar and syntax; this process naturally strengthens reading comprehension skills.”
– ‘Why teach Poetry’ by Carol Clark
Download the whole article here: http://www.epsbooks.com/downloads/articles/Why_Teach_Poetry.pdf
“The teaching of poetry whether in university, college or high school is the single most damaging force to the creation and appreciation of the genre. One of the underlining advantages of studying poetry at a university or college is that if you fail to create any poetry of merit you can always fall back on teaching it. This ensures that the damage will be perpetuated onto the next generation.”
Source: The Danforth review
Read more here: http://www.erinoconnor.org/archives/2003/10/in_defense_of_p.html
A positive view
“Shakespeare, Mozart, Churchill are examples of poets who will continue to inspire. Anything which touches the soul and makes us less than indifferent is poetry. That’s why it exists and why I love studying it. Although rather than “study”, I might say experience.
Teaching poetry is a bit more difficult because students sometimes equate studying poetry with being tortured! Once we get over that little hump, it’s inspiring. One of the best times I’ve had teaching poetry was when we culminated with a coffee house and students brought their poetry, either some else’s or their own and performed it. Also, chalking limericks on the school sidewalks was good.
Anything that bursts the dam, that opens kids up to how to handle emotion, that teaches them how to flow with life, that shows them how to circumnavigate the weltering world, is studying poetry. And I love being there when it happens. Teachers are so lucky, especially English teachers.”
– poster on Guardian talkboards