Monday, September 03, 2007

Poem envy

Today our school played host to a brief visit by prolific poet Steven Herrick, this year's patron of National Literacy and Numeracy Week. The students (and teachers) were enthralled by his deceptively easy style of almost-conversational refrains, often based on keen, real-world experiences that flow as a series of pithy and/or wry observations of the human condition - and not a stereotypical rhyming word in sight.

I came away from the session feeling like I wanted to reach for a pad and pencil and just let the ideas flow. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the students felt just as inspired. Unfortunately, we were all back to work all too soon.

Steven Herrick says he wanted to be a professional soccer player, wasn't good enough to make it in that chosen field, but started writing poetry at age 18, earning his first $5 after sending a quirky poem to a magazine.

Interestingly, I was working at "Scan" (the professional journal for teacher-librarians) when a bit of a debate broke out about how SCIS was cataloguing Steven Herrick works. Some of his volumes are actually novels, even though they might appear, at first glance, to be thematic poetry anthologies. Because he doesn't want students thinking that individual poems in those books could be read in any order, not to mention that the books might languish unnoticed and unread in the poetry section, Steven Herrick requested the cataloguers to reconsider some of his his books as novels.

In another example of an effective use of Youtube, here's Steven Herrick with the delightful Ten things your parents will never say, from "Poetry to the rescue":

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