I think that the study of poetry has instilled a fear of poetry in the average person. I dare you to ask the next five people that you meet what they think about poetry. I bet 4 of them make a nasty face. I hear it all the time, from students and adults alike. "I hate poetry." "Why can't he just get to the point and say it?" "Sometimes a white flower is just a white flower- we don't need to read so much into every little thing." How do we create poetry lovers? I'm sure that many a teacher has been inspired by Robin Williams' John Keating of Dead Poets' Society, but having kids stand on desks may not always do the trick. I have always thought that we as teachers need to step back and allow students to read and explore different poems so that they can find something that speaks to them. Seeing the full spectrum of what poetry has to offer might show people that poetry can be many different things.
I think that Poems That Make Grown Men Cry could be a good tool to show this spectrum of possibilities. The anthology asks 100 famous men from different walks of life to share a poem that arouses emotion in them. The man writes a brief introduction to the poem explaining why they chose it. With that emotional description in mind, the reader can read the poem through the perspective of someone who has already been touched by the piece. I think that it is a brilliant idea, particularly since the book focuses on males. Allowing boys to look up a poem that has been meaningful to someone that they admire shows them that literature has been written to change our lives, and that it is okay to be moved by something that you have read. If you think that you hate poetry, I would suggest taking a look at Poems That Make Grown Men Cry to see if it changes your mind.
Food for thought... What are your thoughts on poetry? Is there a poem that has made you cry? Tell me about it!