Monday, April 18, 2011

Day Eighteen - Poetry 180

A few years back, Billy Collins devised a rather simple, yet wholly substantive way to reintroduce poetry to the mainstream. He looked at the public school calendar and realized there are approximately 180 days in the school year. At that point he set about collecting 180 poems to be read (some of them aloud) in classrooms by students on a daily basis. The poems would need to be humorous, interesting, intelligent, touching, and fun; after all, they would be for a very difficult audience of school aged children and teens. Collins collected a diverse set of poems into his first collection for Poetry 180. It is a stunningly addictive book that I would recommend to any poetry lover. Collins followed this first collection up with a second 180 poems to use in the classroom. Speaking of the classroom, I have used Poetry 180 with students and have noticed it to be quite engaging and stimulating. Students seem to respond to the relevance of the poems Collins has selected; instead of flowery, archaic verse, Poetry 180 delivers the in-your face modernity that students need to find poems to be real. If that isn't enough motivation for you, then I'll mention this: many of the poems featured on this blog over the last four years have come from the Poetry 180 collections. I encourage all of you to check out Poetry 180, and those of you who are teaching I would advise you to find a way to include it in your classrooms. You'll thank me, and Billy Collins, later!

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