Friday, January 2, 2009

Poems by People Who Aren't Dead Yet

When I was the writer-in-residence at Broad Ripple HS, my friend Doris used to let me teach a poetry unit to her juniors every year that I called “Poetry by People Who Aren’t Dead Yet”—the idea being that you pretty much had to be dead to get into English textbooks. It was a blast! And a fair number of students actually opened up to poetry enough to give writing it a try. My favorite observation about this process was from a science guy: [writing a poem is] “…kind of like testing out a hypothesis. You keep trying different things till you figure it out.” Well, yeah.

So here’s my New Year’s resolution—one I might actually be able to keep. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon of Poetry Friday, with a little bit different spin: Poems by People Who Aren’t Dead Yet, with a suggestion for all you aspiring young writers out there about how to use each one as a springboard for a poem of your own.

How Poetry Comes to Me

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

Gary Snyder


Use a series of metaphors to describe what it feels like to write a poem.

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