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									Poetry Central
  Delia M. Turner, Ph.D.
  The Haverford School
Teaching English is a challenge.
You already juggle too much.
 How can you add poetry?
Don’t add it on top. Put it in the
Your boys will learn more.
Boys love poetry
Boys like to write poetry
Boys listen to poetry already.
It’s short, it’s intense, it’s
Poetry is useful for boys.
Poetry gives boys language to
        talk about life.
Good poetry is a juggling act, and
 boys like athletic performance.
Reading poetry helps develop text stamina,
     knowledge, and language skill.
You can do more with short
You can read more widely in
         less time.
Your students can learn a wide
        variety of skills.
There’s a poem for every topic
       and every taste.
How can I get started?
Become a poetry reader
Start anywhere you like.
Read, and collect your favorites.
Memorize a few.
Choose poems to teach.
Choose powerful poems
Choose clear poems.
Choose poems with depth.
Use easily available resources.

Investigate poetry anthologies.
Buy a book on reading poetry.
Find, borrow, and modify
Read aloud and teach
Ask: What’s going on with this
Wait, listen, write, and repeat.
Try many different discussion
Ask them to write.
Write every day.
Write for homework.
Assign formal writing tasks.
Use poetry to teach other things
            as well.
You can teach grammar with
You can teach sentence variation
          with poetry.
You can explore themes and
   questions with poetry.
Ask students to memorize and
        recite poems.
Boys value challenge.
Memorized poems become part
           of you.
Reciting teaches other important
Place poetry in the center.

            The Shark
My dear, let me tell you about the shark.
Though his eyes are bright, his thought is dark.
He’s quiet—that speaks well of him.
So does the fact that he can swim.
But though he swims without a sound,
Wherever he swims he looks around
With those two bright eyes and that one dark thought.
He has only one but he thinks it a lot.
And the thought he thinks but can never complete
Is his long dark thought of something to eat.
Most anything does. And I have to add
That when he eats his manners are bad.
He’s a gulper, a ripper, a snatcher, a grabber.
Yes, his manners are drab. But his thought is drabber.
That one dark thought he can never complete
Of something—anything—somehow to eat.
Be careful where you swim, my sweet.

John Ciardi
 When You Forget to Feed Your Gerbil
the mother eats her newborn babies.
Pink furless heads without traces of blood
lie on the newspaper with droppings and wood chips.
Mother-gerbil sucks at a cloudy dry water-bottle
that you also forgot to fill as though she is dragging on a cigarette.
When you finally notice, you finally provide
with the terror and guilt of a prisoner's guard,
imagining the sound of tin cups like mad scales against her bars.
Your gerbil doesn't try to scramble away when you open the metal door,
toss in pellets and an old leaf of lettuce.
And after she eats, she seems almost happy on her exercise wheel,
the one she's gnawed a little plastic off of. You can't bring yourself
to clean her cage, tip out the babies' remains. You can't bring yourself
to do your homework. It's always your fault
when you're a child taking care of a mother.

by Denise Duhamel

from GIRL SOLDIER, 1996
                                      The Portrait
My mother never forgave my
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward                        of a long-lipped stranger
    time                                             with a brave moustache
and in a public park,                                and deep brown level eyes,
that spring                                          she ripped it into shreds
when I was waiting to be born.                       without a single word
She locked his name                                  and slapped me hard.
in her deepest cabinet                               In my sixty-fourth year
and would not let him out,                           I can feel my cheek
though I could hear him thumping.                    still burning.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand                  by Stanley Kunitz

                                                     from THE POEMS OF
                                                     STANLEY KUNITZ, 1928-1978
                                The Panic Bird

 just flew inside my chest. Some        vulture on a public utility pole.
days it lights inside my brain,         Next it flaps, it cries, it glares,
but today it's in my bonehouse,         it rages, it struts, it thrusts
rattling ribs like a birdcage.          its clacking beak into my liver,

If I saw it coming, I'd fend it         my guts, my heart, rips off strips.
off with machete or baseball bat.       I fill with black blood, black bile.
Or grab its scrawny hackled neck,       This may last minutes or days.
wring it like a wet dishrag.            Then it lifts sickle-shaped wings,
But it approaches from behind.          rises, is gone, leaving a residue –
Too late I sense it at my back –        foul breath, droppings, molted
carrion, garbage, excrement.
Once inside me it preens, roosts,       feathers. And life continues.
                                        And then I'm prey to panic again.

                                        Robert Phillips

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