For being such a diverse and vast element of language and literacy, I feel poetry may not be utilised as widely as it could. Not only can poetry be instantly accessible and emotive, it also allows children to see language in a fun and concise way. Poetry allows a multitude of opinions to form and many interpretations to stem from, an often short piece of text.
In the classroom it can be used to expose children to current topics, provoke discussion and debate while showing that language can be a tool that can be adaptive and personal. If a child is given the techniques to create their own poem they have the tools to explore word use and actually (dare I say?) play with words. Roald Dahl, Tony Ross, Shel Silverstein, giants in the children’s literary world and they ALL have collections of poems. Instead of spending hours reading from a class novel, should we not be dipping in and out of poetry? Finding commonalities between poems and themes while possibly getting a truer vibe of who the authors are. Poetry can be so so personal and reflective.
I feel it also allows children to vocalise and experiment with a wider vocabulary. When they have to search for a word that conveys a statement or emotion in one word, opposed to using a few. I know from my own primary experience (over 18 years ago….) that getting up to recite poetry may not have been the most anticipated event but I did feel I had achieved something. Of course all children would relate to performing poetry differently but equipping them with coping techniques and cultivating an environment that celebrates the confidence and self assurance it can take. The process of practice, repetition, allocating time in class for peer input and support. The children could be allowed greater personalisation and breadth when choosing their poems.
You know yourself that when you are asked, while sat at your desk, to read a page from the class novel there is NO WAY you are actually taking in what you’re reading. You nervously wait your turn trying to guess what page you will be reading, you read as fast as you can and have no idea what you’ve read to the class, take a few minutes after to check your cheeks are not too red and return to breathing normally, by which point some other poor child is reading faster than you did about who knows what? Poems can enable a child to understand comprehension and exploration of texts in a more manageable way.
The following two poems (that took me, the computer illiterate fool that I am, over 20 mins to put together), would be a perfect introduction to a topic on War, present struggles and from two viewpoints . The view point varies from a young Syrian girl (left) to a soldier (right). Both are current, relevant and emotive.
Discussion central above!!! For an upper years class I feel this could bring relevant news stories into the class without having to watch the news or relying on playground fears.
In short, as that’s what poems do best…. Poetry is for all. For the now. For local dialect. For topic, discussion and engagement. Literacy = language, talking, listening, writing, reading and poetry brings it together, let’s have a blether and allow poetry to untether, our passion for poetry, now and forever. BOOM.