This week’s featured treasury of poems is The Academy of American Poets’ site Poets.org. Every year they give away beautiful posters (there’s a place to request yours on the site), and you can sign up for daily poems by email in April, too.
I am also asking you to consider reading a poem every day to each of your classes in April. Just a poem. Any poem. Once per class per day. Maybe try this one! Or play this one in class
But Dave, you might say, that’s just hokey, cornball, a waste of valuable class time, given that my subject is not poetry.
Poppycock, I say. Give it a try. And if you’re not sure what Poetry can mean to someone, if you’re interested in a little persuasive reason, well then I offer you the words of one of the 20th century’s most influential philosophers, Richard Rorty. He wrote this essay about the role of poetry in his life after he’d been diagnosed with inoperable, terminal cancer. Down at the end of it, he wrote this:
However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse… I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses.
A great poem can stop time. It can alter a moment, a day, even a world. Share some poems that you love with your students. If they’ve heard them before, they may hear them anew. If they’ve never heard the poem, they may thank you for a gift that they can carry with them for the rest of their days.