Late to the Party
April was National Poetry Month, but what about poetry any month, any day of the year? Count poetry as one more victim of the Common Core standards, according to an article on May 15 in the “Boston Globe.”
Why is poetry important anyway? Its use of language is concise, spare. It is passionate, deep, and multi-layered. Poetry is to be savored and re-examined. John Ciardi renowned poet himself and fellow graduate of Medford High and Tufts wrote a wonderful essay on “How Does a Poem Mean?” He quotes Matthew Arnold: “The grand power of poetry is its interpretive power – the power of so dealing with things as to awaken in us a wonderfully full, new, and intimate sense of them and our relations with them.” According to Ciardi, a poem is a performance to be experienced, not autopsied.
What I came away with after considering all this, was not so much what poetry is, but the need to look carefully at what is squeezed out, what is lost in a strict adherence to a mandated curriculum. And then, what is gained? If one is to believe test results, not that much. And if one listens to college teachers and employers bemoan the fact that young people are not prepared to learn or perform, perhaps we should reconsider the curriculum demands.
My dear friend Jan once confided to me, “My goal is to write a poem that I don’t understand.” Maybe that’s what it’s all about.
© Dorothy C. Judd
Next Post: Monday, May 26th