NaPoMo QOTD Extra! Extra! Poetry Is For Sporty Boys, Too! But, No, Really...

"Teams in grey deploy through sunlight.

Talk it up, boys, a little practice.

Coming in stubby and fast, the baseman
Gathers a grounder in fat green grass..."
 - Cobb Would Have Caught It by Robert Fitzgerald* (PoLau '84-'85)

Poetry is for everyone. The star QB, the choir nerd, the AV kid, that little old lady down the street and gaggle of grandkids. I hate that so many teachers over the years have made poetry some tortured topic or made it bearable by teaching music lyrics instead of poetry like this. Poems can be strange and hard to understand (E.E. Cummings), but they can be accessible and easily enjoyable, too. Fitzgerald is fantastic example of this. OK, so I get teaching rap lyrics. It's a reemergence of poetry in our culture...albeit different subject matter. But, why teach that instead of great poetry? Why not teach it in conjunction with writers like Fitzgerald? I won't lie to you, I had never even heard of Robert Fitzgerald until I read this book, but I can tell you what Wu told me and all about the end of the world as we know it. I'm a senior English major at a state university. This is a travesty. Tra.Vest. Ty. I can only hope that this month I can help some people discover some new writers and new poems.

Your homework assignment for the day (betcha didn't see that one coming) is tell someone who wouldn't usually read poetry to read a poem. It doesn't have to be a stuffy 18th century Brit Lit ode to a lover. It can be fun. It can be light-hearted. It can be easy to understand. Let the cat out of the bag, guys! Poetry is a horse of a different color. It's a horse of whatever color you want it to be, you've just got to find the right one.

*From The Poets Laureate Anthology, published by W.W. Norton in association with the Library of Congress. Poem copyright Robert Fitzgerald.


I love this!

What I really love, though, is a good reading by the poet. Haven't been to one in ages, but I remember watching, listening raptly, as the words came alive and dance. Maybe that's the secret of both rap and slams. Poetry is meant to be heard instead of dissected by some English professor in a classroom.
Jerusha said…
True story. My secret weapon at debate tournaments was quoting poetry. It's all about the inflection and the sound.
That being said, poetry reading competitions (yes, they have those) do something terrible to poetry. I feel a little closer to the grave every time I see one. Especially because I know that the poems are actually great most of the time.

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