Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I have turned in my 2nd quarter grade early. Somehow I have all my lesson plans ready through the day before our week-long break. Somehow my "in" tray for papers to grade is empty. Miraculous. So I am writing at 11:22 on a Wednesday.

This post is mostly to share other writers' words. I am wrapping up a poetry unit with my students and there is something about all of the possibility that lies in poetry and the beauty of revision and experimentation that makes me feel like it's not winter outside. Or, makes me embrace winter a little better?

The extra credit assignment for kids who want a challenge or are done with their collections early is to write an Ars Poetica, a term coined by Horace in 18 BC. Its hard to name the excitement that runs through me knowing that these conversations have been going on throughout the existence of the written word. The term officially means "the art of poetry" and has come to describe a poem that is about poetry (think metacognition, but for a genre of literature). Here is one that just breaks my heart in the best of ways:

Ars Poetica by Claribel Alegria,
trans. by D. Flakoll

poet by trade,
condemned so many times
to be a crow,
would never change places
with the Venus de Milo:
while she reigns in the Louvre
and dies of boredom
and collects dust
I discover the sun
each morning
and amid valleys
and debris of war
I catch sight of the promised land.

I love the idea of poetry being a means of hope and of capturing and renaming the world and its corners. I keep thinking that if we paid more attention to the corners overlooked and the hands untouched that we could give them life. And their life can bring life to those who live out a cheapened version.

1 comment:

ylmurph said...

I really liked this
that's all - I feel like I should write more...and now I'm just rambling about not saying much...which is ironic...and as someone who loves the English language...this incessant....thing I do with the dot dot dot has to be driving you crazy...

anyhow, I really liked this