The power of poetry...have hankies handy

Happy Easter

34 Writing Contests in May 2019 - No entry fees

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Full Member
May 5, 2018
This extract from Kate Clanchy's book, Some Kids I Taught And What They Taught Me.

It was wonderful to read something so uplifting about the rewards of teaching (one hears so much of the opposite, it seems)...but the poetry and its effects on the students, both in the writing and the reading, blew me away. And my husband.

It led to a discussion at the breakfast table with our children about poignant tears, seeing as we had to explain why we were both shedding them.

The extract also makes an interesting point about the role of poetry in different cultures...and how words can be a source of comfort, even while they express pain.

Another interesting point is how words can work in a "foreign" language...and the usefulness of translator apps on phones for creativity.

I commend it to my fellow Litopians. :)
That, and those poems are heartbreaking but so beautiful.

We go through phases here where we keep a book of poetry on the table (Seamus Heaney and Mary Oliver are our favourites, so accessible for children too) and we often spend our mornings reading and writing and talking about the poems. Extraordinary conversations and insights from small people. I'm always fascinated at the details they remember, especially things that made them really sad or upset (thankfully, they have only experienced things like anger or feeling bullied or "shedding a thousand little tears" when our cat died, rather than bombs and death and unimaginable horror).

The first poem that caught me squarely in the gut was this poem: Mid-Term Break. I had a four year old brother at the time (I was ten or eleven). In our house, we come back to this poem over an over again too.

Mid-Term Break
BY Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying—
He had always taken funerals in his stride—
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four-foot box, a foot for every year.
@Rainbird That Heaney poem is an absolute masterpiece. That it appeared in the same volume as "Death of a Naturalist" and "Digging", three poems which more or less made his reputation, is a thing of wonder. These poems will I think form part of any future anthology of English-language verse in the twentieth century. Thank you for reminding us of this wonderful piece
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Happy Easter

34 Writing Contests in May 2019 - No entry fees