Skip to main content

Poetry is Making A Resurgence

I am reposting this most interesting article from Cambridge University, kindly sent to me by fellow educator and friend, Lisa Burman.


Having long been sidelined as a Cinderella subject in schools, children's poetry is poised to reclaim the hearts and minds of a new generation of younger readers, a new study suggests.

Poetry has always been the hardest part of the English curriculum to deliver in schools. Opportunities to write poetry have increasingly been squeezed out in response to pressures to "teach to tests"
David Whitley
Researchers argue that factors including internet and television campaigns, scientific and psychological studies, and the present and previous poet laureates' sympathies for the cause are all aiding a revival in the subject after years in the doldrums.
The claims are made by the editors of a new book, Poetry and Childhood, which, following a joint University of Cambridge and British Library conference on the same theme last year, compiles the latest research on children's poetry and assesses its state of health in the 21st century.
Recent reports by organisations like Ofsted and the UK Literacy Association (UKLA) have painted a bleak picture, suggesting that poetry is becoming almost as alien to teachers as it is to the young readers it aims to reach.
As recently as 2008, a survey of 1,200 British primary school teachers for the UKLA found that 22% could not name a single poet. Collections for children by individual poets and the availability of poetry in the children's sections of bookshops also seem to be in decline.
According to the editors of the new book, however, an upswing may be just around the corner, thanks to a fresh wave of activism by poets and lovers of children's poetry. Coupled with serious scholarly investigation into poetry's merits, they suggest that this is helping to reimagine and reinvent the form for modern classrooms and readers.
Children are, they add, beginning to discover modern poets - such as Philip Gross, and Tony Mitton - alongside long-cherished works by the likes of Edward Lear, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Taylor, A. A. Milne and Christina Rossetti.
David Whitley, from the University of Cambridge's Faculty of Education, who co-edited Poetry and Childhood, said: "Poetry has always been the hardest part of the English curriculum to deliver in schools. Opportunities to write poetry have increasingly been squeezed out in response to pressures to "teach to tests". Children aren't encouraged to learn poems by heart anymore and poetry is perceived as more difficult to understand than prose."
"Now we are seeing various interventions which recognise that the very qualities that have led to poetry's decline - the special attention it requires, its precision and ability to lodge in the deepest recesses of memory - may be exactly what's needed to counterbalance the quickfire nature of children's development in the digital age. In the present cultural moment, there is a real sense that a lot of collective energy is putting poetry back on the map again."
Researchers point to the efforts of figures such as the former children's laureate, Michael Rosen, who also contributes to the new book. Rosen has made it his stated mission "to put the pleasure back into poetry". As laureate, he started an interactive YouTube site, where poets and children can share performances, and a programme of roadshows in which poets travel up and down the country performing their work for young audiences.
Those who write specifically for children are not alone. Andrew Motion, who contributed a preface to the study, created during his tenure as poet laureate an online archive with a dedicated children's section, enabling users to tune into recordings of Roald Dahl reading Little Red Riding Hood And The Wolf, or Spike Milligan's rendition of The Land Of The Bumbly Boo. Motion's successor, Carol Ann Duffy, divides her time between child and adult audiences, as did his predecessor, Ted Hughes.
One reason for the renewed emphasis on poetry for children, the editors suggest, may be that both educational and scientific studies have started to highlight the benefits of studying the subject.
The second phase of the UKLA study which uncovered the limited awareness of poetry among primary school teachers sought to develop their knowledge, with positive results. The researchers observed dramatic changes in the relationships between teachers and students, concluding that: "Teachers, positioned as fellow readers, have the confidence to teach both effectively and affectively and draw in reluctant readers".
Scientific investigations into the study of poetry have also shown that an engagement with the subject enhances children's ability to express themselves in a sophisticated way, as research reported by Cambridge Professor Usha Goswami shows.
"Children are very responsive to musical language - you might say that they are hard-wired to rhyme and rhythm," Morag Styles, Reader in Children's Literature and Education at the University of Cambridge and another of the book's co-editors, said. "This means that their feeling for poetry starts at a very young age. By encouraging them not just to read, speak or listen to poetry, but also to write it themselves, they develop a much stronger awareness of language."
Poetry and Childhood is published by Trentham Books and will be launched at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education on October 18th.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page.
- See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/rhyme-on-the-rise#sthash.sJOYFs5f.dpuf

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ottava Rima Poem

Today I've gone Italian with an Ottava Rima poem. An Ottava Rima is a poetic form made up of eight lines that rhyme. Each line consists of eleven syllables.The Ottava Rima in its current form was first created by the Italian poet, Giovanni Boccaccio. It is based on a poetic form then used in Sicily, incorporating an alternating rhyming scheme throughout its eight lines. The double rhyme in the last two verses was introduced later on.

An Ottava Rima poem is made up of an octave with the rhyme pattern:
ab
ab
ab
cc

This poem presented an interesting challenge, but then again a challenge is a good thing for a poet. I kept returning to it across a couple of weeks. 

Distancing myself from the words allowed me to return with a clearer vision about what my poem needed in order to settle. Sometimes making a poem is akin to working with Lego pieces. When the word arrangement works, you hear everything click into place. 

Some tinkering and line movement proved quite useful in the end. I would recomm…

Kyrielle POEM

A Kyrielle poem is structured so that all the lines have eight syllables and each stanza of four lines ends in a refrain. It takes on a rhythmical form very much like a rhyming couplet.


A Kyrielle poem is made up of 4 lined stanzas of eight syllables each. The capital letter (directly below) being the refrain:

aabB  
ccbB 
ddbB 
eebB

Here is my Kyrielle poem. It is springtime in Australia, so it seems appropriate to tap into the sensations of the season when looking for inspiration. Just like the Ottava Rima poem I wrote recently, Kyrielle poems require some thought and effort. I must admit I again enjoyed the challenge presented by the structure of the poem. Finding sufficient rhyming words that are also appropriate for the subject was a major consideration. So, my fellow poets are you up for the challenge?


Springtime Revelations

Finessing all the shrubbery
The gentle breeze washed over me
Scents and bouquets then arose
The earth reveals what winter knows

The morning air is light and warm
Dragonf…

Poets and Wordplay

It is important to create a sense of wonder around words. Ralph Fletcher refers to deliberate playfulness with language to create a particular kind of effect. I agree. Wordplay is critical to feeling comfortable with language in general and poetry in particular. Here are a few ideas to get the word fun started:

Poets try to see ordinary things in extraordinary ways
*Describe a pair of dirty,worn out sneakers They look like..... They smell like..... They feel like..... They remind me of.....
What don’t you want to be doing tomorrow ? What don’t you want to be doing next week ? What don’t you want to be doing when you grow up ?
Word gatherers    - collect words...poets need them Words which sound like noises  (onomatopoeia  ) buzz plop quack twang whizz splat bong
Words which sound good hubbub giggle gingerly agog billabong skedaddle gongoozle 
Words which are made up: esky elbonics tetramangulation woos
Alliteration: When poets use a string of words which  begin the same letter we call it alliteration
 Awfully angry ant…