Thursday, January 15, 2009

Student Teacher, Part 9

Leafing through the 12th-grade English book, and the section on British poetry, my heart sank. The poets represented gave me chills. I moaned their names: Alexander Pope (oh no!); Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Lord, have mercy on us); William Wordsworth (that's him on the right, need I say more?).

Who had compiled this torturous text, anyway? Here was an anthology of the most blithering, boring and incomprehensible poetry ever to come out of quill pens. If my kids had so much trouble with "Great Expectations," how could they stay awake through even six stanzas of William Blake?

Stalling, I gave my classes a writing assignment. I tracked down Miss Tygart and asked her, "Is it OK to supplement the unit on poetry with some additional material?"
"What sort of poetry do you have in mind?" she responded.
"I'm thinking of Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats, perhaps some contemporary British poets."
"Well, I suppose that would be acceptable, as long as this material doesn't stray from traditional metric and rhyme schemes."

I had a plan. I came in early every day and kept the mimeograph machine in the teacher's lounge humming. The kids could carry their English textbooks to class, for the sake of appearance, but I'd provide them with all the poetry they'd need to read. And they wouldn't have to read it all; they could listen to it, on a phonograph. The "contemporary British poets" I had in mind did indeed write in rhyme and meter, but their work was not printed in anthologies but rather on vinyl.
I was thinking of The Beatles.

No comments: