It’s National Poetry Month! I just happen to love poetry and have been writing it and reading it for a long time. I’ve also taught it over the years to students in my Creative Writing, Lit & Comp and Poetry classes. Poetry is word art and if you are going to study writing, you must, in my opinion, study poetry!
- Firstly, it’s a great way for even very young children to learn the rhythm and cadence of good writing.
- Secondly, if you have your kids memorize poetry, they commit beautiful words and word pictures to memory to draw on later as they learn to write. You are giving your kids a jump start on great writing styles.
- Thirdly, as every professional artist knows, real talent at art takes dedication and commitment to learning the forms; in other words, discipline and adherence to traditional structures and styles of each type of creative expression. For a dancer, these would be the 7 movements, for musicians, the scales, for writers, excellent sentence structure and the ability to turn a phrase. Learning the basics well, memorizing them so that they are second nature allows one to play and create in new and expressive ways. The true artist takes what has been and turns it on its head. For the musician that means practicing scales. And for the writer, learning traditional poetry is like practicing scales.
What is Poetry?
Simply put, poetry is a combination of rhythm and imagery. It is the use of forms, meter and rhyme to create memorable word pictures. Don’t all of us have a fanciful picture in our heads of Jack Sprat who ate no fat and his wife who ate no lean? Or a regal thought about the official-looking King’s men whose best efforts did not put Humpty Dumpty together again?
Poetry, by its very nature, makes an excellent mnemonic, as evidenced by our ability to recall rhymes and simple poems we learned early in life and haven’t heard for decades. This would explain why Shakespeare is so quotable, as he wrote primarily in Iambic Pentameter (a poetic form that uses 5 meters of |da-DUM| – interestingly enough, the same pattern in which our heart beats- |da-DUM| |da-DUM| |da-DUM|, etc.
Will my kids take poetry studies seriously? I would say a resounding, “Tomorrow and Today!” Young kids love the fun wordplay of simple rhymes and poems and take great joy in tropes such as awesome alluring alliterations and phosphorical rhetorical questions.
Once you empower them with forms and tropes they often reveal at the challenge of it, laugh uproariously at the ability to be ridiculous and shock even themselves at the profound appreciation they feel for simple things. Things that they can now fully express without embarrassment because the form demanded their full attention and in giving it they discovered they felt and thought deeply about important things.
Yes, I believe your students will take poetry seriously.
How to get started
- Memorize nursery rhymes and simple poems
- Memorize Shakespeare or Horatius at the Bridge
- Gather fellow homeschoolers for a recitation night
- Participate in Poetry Outloud
- Take True North Homeschool Academy’s Poetry Class and have an absolute blast learning and growing alongside fellow budding troubadour’s.