Poetry. What exactly is poetry? Actually, there are no comprehensive definitions of poetry. A good definition for the classroom is words in an enclosed form that call attention to themselves. The difference between poetry and regular speech is that most poetry has more meaning per word than prose. Words of a poem have an extra consciousness about themselves. Because a poem is more concise than prose and measured, every word counts. The words a poet uses are specifically chosen and “on purpose.” Poetry changes the way in which words normally refer to things in order to make us see things in a new way. “Poetry is concerned with the massiveness, the
, of experience” (Brooks and Warren 6). Poetry is not simply verse.
I teach at the Sound School in New Haven, Connecticut. Our school is an aquaculture regional center where the students focus on marine life and boating. Students build boats, sail, breed fish and study them, and study environmental effects on the water, among other things. Our students come from about twenty surrounding towns; in fact, some of them take the train for an hour to get here. Most students come because they love the water, and many of them are hands-on learners. Sometimes this makes learning in a traditional class like English a challenge for them. While we make accommodations, we still do try to also focus on traditional literature and composition. We have a varied socioeconomic grouping, as well as a variety of skill-levels, as the students have come from so many different schools and home lives. We are an inner-city school, so we have a lot of the same challenges as other city schools. I’m writing this unit for my AP English Literature and Composition class. Some of the students we get for an AP class would not necessarily qualify for an AP class at a suburban school. We work a great deal on analysis in their thinking, reading, and writing. Usually the class is not greater than 15 students, which affords a good opportunity for one on one conferencing.