Kids Can Learn the Power of Poetry via AnnArbor.com

Article by Scott Beal via AnnArbor.com

In ninth grade, I declared to my English teacher, Mrs. Way, that I hated poetry. I wasn't crazy about Mrs. Way, either. She was grouchy and strict and forbade us from ever using "be" verbs in our writing assignments. (On the first day of class we had to write a paper introducing ourselves; I thought, how do you say "My name is Scott" without "is"?)

In retrospect, I love Mrs. Way and I'm mortified to think I acted like a brat in her class. That year-long proscription against "be" verbs is one of the best gifts an English teacher ever gave me. Another is the note she scrawled on my essay on Robert Frost's poem "Fire and Ice": "For someone who hates poetry, you're pretty good at writing about it." The paper is long lost, but the comment lives in my head.

When I was in tenth grade, a poet-in-residence visited my school. Her name was Terry Blackhawk, and she met with groups of students for an hour a week for several weeks. I signed up because I thought it might help me write awesome heavy metal lyrics. It didn't. But I did produce one poem I was proud of, and got to read it along with 3 or 4 kids at a tiny event in the school library.

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