Poetry in the Classroom

In college, I remember how much I enjoyed watching a documentary on people reading their favorite poems. Everyone had one they liked—from blue collar workers to professionals, moms to kids and the like. I loved how poetry were subtly integrated into their lives, how much enjoyable it was beyond the classroom.

But sometimes, it is in the classroom where students mostly encounter poetry. In some instances, it has not always been pleasant because they are made to dissect the poems before having the chance to enjoy them. Poetry in the classroom doesn’t always have to be like that.  If you’re an English teacher or someone who feels her students could benefit with a dose of poems at the start of the class, there are so many creative ways in doing so.  Here are some that I’ve encountered from college and from recent times:

Listen to poetry being read.
Poetry after all is aural. It’s meant to be heard and said out loud. Look up popular poets on Youtube and on poetry sites (like www.poetryfoundation.org or www.poets.org) and download them for the class. You can also check out from the library some poetry CDs (the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House as well as the NCCA has released audio recordings of Filipino poets reading their works). Then play one poem (or three) and enjoy them as is.

Hold a poetry recital.
Have your students memorize a favorite poem and hold a poetry recital.  Make sure it’s a poem that has meaning to them so memorizing it wouldn’t be too daunting. Each student can take turns reciting the whole poem. They will bring those poetic lines with them always.

Have fun writing short poetic forms.
Who says poetry has to be long and serious? A few years back, people wrote poems on their mobile phones and sent it as a tanaga and a dalit to win a prize. So encourage your students to write any of the two Filipino poetic forms (and discover more via the NCCA website) or even the familiar haiku and have fun with it. Themes can be anything the class would like to tackle for the day.  Two examples to savor:

“Nang ako’y nag-aabang
ng tala’t bulalakaw
bigla kang napadaan
At ako’y tinamaan.”
– Mark John Abeleda (winner, TexTanaga contest by the NCCA, week 1 2003)

“Ay! Masaganang payaw
ang katawan mo, mahal,
at bul-ol akong bantay
sa mapintog mong palay.”
– Danilo dela Cruz  (winner, TexTanaga contest by the NCCA, week 1 2003)

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=195761

Play a rhyming game.
Get down to basics and play with words. Face off with a rhyming game. One student will say a word while the other must match it with a similar sounding one. And so forth. Form teams or just make it random. Have fun and be creative.

Read a poem a day.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, they say. Well, hopefully an inspiring poem to start the day would do that too. There’s so many poems to read and discover. Post one on the door or the bulletin board, read them to class, have the class read them to you, or send your students home with one, just because.

Lastly, here are links to other resources for teachers:
http://www.shelsilverstein.com/html/Teachers.html – Poet Shel Silverstein shares ideas for teachers reading Silverstein’s works in class.

http://www.poetryclass.net/- chockfull of resources from the Poetry Society

http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/teachersHome.do – poetry recordings from the Poetry Archive

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/language-assistant/teaching-tips/using-poetry – tips from the British Council

If you’d like help in discussing poetry in your classroom, we invite you to join us this coming March 24, 2012 for our “Verses to Nourish the Soul: Poetry Appreciation Class.” Poet Carlomar Arcangel Daoana and regular creative writing workshop panelist will read and talk about the poems that inspire him as well as from his own latest poetry collection published by the UST Publishing House. For more details and to register, please drop by our website at www.designedbywords.com.

Jenny Orillos is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. Her feature articles have been published in FOOD Magazine, Rogue, Experience Philippines, Homestyle, and other publications. She completed her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the De La Salle University.

1 Comment

  1. Jen I’ve been following your achievements…. I’m proud of you…. I wish I could get hold of you… email me your number my friend… I trully miss you…

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