Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teaching Poetry

Tomorrow, my teaching partner and I begin teaching poetry to our 9th grade creative writing class.  The class is like an internship for us - teaching internships as part of our graduate school programs.  My grad program is poetry, and my partner's is fiction.  I am thrilled to begin our poetry unit and excited to see what our students have to share with us.  I can't wait!

In celebration of the start of our poetry unit tomorrow, I wanted to share with you some fantastic resources for sharing and teaching poetry to children.  My teaching mentor is Kenneth Koch (pronounced "Coke" like the soda).  He passed away in 2002, but left behind some amazing books on teaching poetry, as well as a fantastic lecture (from 1979, but still relevant today).  Koch was also a prolific poet in addition to being a brilliant teacher.  His teaching ranged from working with children in New York City public schools, and abroad, up to teaching seniors in nursing homes.  He compiled those teaching experiences and his thoughts on teaching in some wonderful volumes:

 Wishes, Lies, and Dreams by Kenneth Koch

Rose, Where Did You Get That Red by Kenneth Koch

I Never Told Anybody: Teaching Poetry Writing to Old People by Kenneth Koch

And, HERE is a fantastic lecture Koch gave at the Naropa institute.

And, just for fun, HERE is a great article by Lemony Snicket, I mean, Daniel Handler, about reading poetry.  Caution:  If you read this out loud or have your children read it, the "F"-word is used once in the article.

To find Kenneth Koch's books, please click on the boxes below:


  1. good luck good luck! I hope your first day went well! You are one brave woman to teach poetry to 9th graders! But there is also so much power in that position---I can still remember one of my high school english teachers reading us William Carlos Williams' poem "This is Just to Say." I could tell how much she loved that poem, and it made me love it too. It's such an amazing thing when a teacher can show her passion for something and it then rubs off on the students that want to connect too!



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