Technically, I’ve been a poet ten months longer than I’ve been a teacher, working in both the way hands move back and forth; industrious, often apart, and sometimes, sweet relief, united in cause. Over the last ten years, Best Canadian Poetry has published some of the most exciting and provocative poetry Canada has to offer. Now, for the first time, through my blog site, The Reason For Poetry, BCP offers educators suggestions on how to deconstruct the poems, and provoke your students into reflection on and passion for the genre.
As Department Head of English at a public high school, I deeply appreciate the constraints that teachers face; budgets, resources, energy. I also appreciate the richness that ensues when a spark is cultivated, and grows. In my own school, we spend countless hours (and I mean countless, perhaps a thousand over the decade plus I have been there) looking for ways to build momentum, discover what we do not know. After years of practice, we have come to see teachers as learners; PA Days are spent offering opportunities to build meaningful connections and new skills, enriching mind and (hopefully) souls with wellness activities, collaborating in groups. All is not rosy, but we have built a fairly consistent glow; something to be proud of, as any educator knows.
Working over the last few seasons to cull and deconstruct poems from the Best Canadian Poetry Anthologies has been a privilege and an education; I have listened to stories from all corners of the Canadian minds cape, and recognized echoes of my own. I have gathered several of these (in three packets, to be released online over the course of the year) with ideas for how we might entice and engage readers into insight. The activities suggested will not necessarily beget poems, yet. But they are designed to provoke reflection, and writing, and at times creative writing; all steps towards the country of poetry. If you are an interested reader or writer, please feel free to dive in and start swimming; the poems are too good to miss; I hope you will find the activities equally so.