Education

4 Reasons Poetry Appreciation Can Save The Planet

It’s a jumbo assertion that poetry can save the planet. Nonetheless, as a poet and former teacher, I think it’s true. Just step outside the “can’t do box” for a moment, and lend an ear to four reasons why poetry can save the planet.
1. Poetry is the golden honey of all genres of writing and communication. “The crown of literature is poetry. It is its end and aim,” said British writer, Somerset Maugham. He added, “Poetry is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.” It’s poetry that pulls at our heartstrings and makes us feel fully alive. Why not focus the teaching of poetry appreciation in schools across America without dissecting it for meaning like a frog in biology class? Poetry opens the door to creativity and new ways of thinking about ourselves, and our planet.
2. Poetry instruction makes us better readers and writers. If you appreciate poetry, it’s difficult not to appreciate good literature. Knowing the tools of a poet from alliteration to symbolism creates in us a more thorough understanding of writing that appeals to our senses and sensibilities. When we read articles online or classics on our Kindle, we will know the difference between mediocre writing and excellent writing. (And, if we’re using a Kindle to acquire books, we’re killing fewer trees.)
3. Sessions of “Drop Everything and Read Poetry” in schools will increase literacy and reduce the high school dropout rate. As a classroom teacher in grades 2-6, I introduced my students to the poetry of Shel Silverstein. They loved his charming and somewhat irreverent poetry and drawings. His words were magic to their ears and sight; kids laughed and giggled with their teacher instead of at their teacher. A bond of shared trust and poetry appreciation was formed, which led to the writing of “short” powerful things-poems and class anthologies. The students discovered who they were and what it was like to be a poet. They found themselves in poems, chapter books and Judy Blume books. W.B. Yeats, Irish poet and dramatist, wrote: “Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” Poetry helps us to make sense of ourselves and the planet.
4. Poetry helps us understand what it means to feel to be human. By its very nature it encourages us to be in touch with our feelings. In writing poetry, kids will sometimes reveal major issues in their lives that would go totally unnoticed unless written about. It takes a sensitive teacher to see what’s invisible to many others. Kids need to write about what pains them and what pleases them. Through poetry students can write about what they are grateful in life. Here is a poem written by a very thankful 8th grader who happens to be my grandson, Matthew Joseph Feyh:
“I Am Thankful.”
I am thankful for everything given to me.
I am thankful for all of my family.
I am thankful for a place to stay.
I am thankful for warmth every night.
I am thankful for friends that care.
I am thankful for food to spare.
I am thankful for grandparents that love.
Poetry encourages us to be the best person that we can be on this planet, and it can help us save the planet. Dig into some poetry today!

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