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What Happens to POETRY?

During that intriguing journey from kindergarten through to high school we lose so many of those fans of poetry, and the answer is simple. It happens because we move away from writing, reading and performing poetry and focus way too much on dissecting and analyzing it. We chop it up into pieces. It becomes reading by autopsy! No longer can hear the rhythm and rhyme. No longer do we rejoice in the wordplay.  We lose the pleasure that comes with performance. The quest is focused upon hidden meaning and obscure symbolism. We become obsessed in second guessing the poet's motives.

Poetry in such an environment becomes dull and tarnished. The fans begin to wander away…

We have lost sight of the fact that we learn to write by reading, listening thinking and writing –and by writing we arrive at understanding.'

I learnt from American poet, Ted Kooser - 'You have to read at least one hundred poems before you write one.' I interpreted this as meaning I had to immerse myself in poetry in order to write it. I have continued to collect poetry throughout my writing life. My collection of poetry continues to expand. It is pleasantly plump and well rounded.

Many teachers tell me they love poetry. That's always a re-assuring thing to hear. I fervently hope they are prepared to put such declarations into action and acquire some poetry books of their own. By doing so, they may joyfully share these poetic pearls with the curious learners in their care. It's action that matters. Every generation deserves to have poetry in their lives. Every generation deserves poetry champions. Champions who shine a light on powerful, wondrous and wacky words as well as thought provoking ideas.

So fellow teachers, if you love poetry, I urge you produce the poetic proof!

'Love of language and a sense of gratitude would be two ingredients in the recipe for making a poet.'
Billy Collins

'Each child is born a poet and every poet is a child.'
Piri Thomas

To finish on a joyful note, I share this poem that emerged in my writer's notebook, just last week.

Pigs Might Fly
Birds fly, so might I
Said the pig…

My word, said the bird
No drama, said the llama
Might take a while, said the crocodile
Up there? said the bear
Is that legal? said the eagle
Dream on, said the swan
Good luck, said the duck
Oh no, said the crow
You won’t get far, said the galah
Better me than you, said the emu
I’m heading for cover, said the plover
It’s hard not to laugh, said the giraffe

Can I come too? said the kangaroo


  1. Thanks for being one of poetry's champions, Alan! And for joining in poetry friday today.

    1. Always happy to advocate for poetry Sally, just like you.

  2. What a perfect post to go with Sally's Terse Verse today! With so many good poetry books out there, it's easy to share a multitude of poetry with students. Since I'm no longer teaching, I try to keep my Little Free Library supplied with poetry.

    1. I like your direct action with poetry Kay. We need more of this. Poetry titles are out there, but we must continue to bring them to the attention of kids, parents and teachers whenever possible.

  3. Thank you for your post! I definitely have piles of poetry books to prove how much I love it, and I'm working hard to help my students retain their love of it, too!

    1. Your sustained efforts are to be applauded Ruth. More power to you!

  4. You struck a nerve with your opening comments, Alan. I adore sharing poetry with my Kindergarteners and encouraging them to create it as well. We close our eyes and listen. We paint pictures in our heads of what we hear and think. We illustrate the words of others with the images we've imagined. When a former Principal suggested I give my students highlighters so they can circle sight words or particular letters of the alphabet, I push back and say NO! -- Christie @

    1. Love what you're doing Christie. I wish you continued success in your concerted efforts to instil joy and a love of poetry within those impressionable young minds.

  5. Well said! It's encouraging to know that PF teachers are working hard to instill a love of poetry in their students. I love the wordplay in your poem. "Is that legal? said the eagle."

    1. Thank you for your response Joyce. I share your joy for the work teachers are doing to instil a love of poetry within the hearts and minds of curious learners. I'm also pleased you enjoyed my ending poem ad its wordplay.


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