I'm starting the school year working with a 1st grade class. I'm extremely excited to be there, and I think I'll have a great year. It's going to be strange to work with kids this age. It's exactly the age I want, and I think I'll do well. It won't be easy; it's a tough time in a lot of ways. My philosophy of elementary school involves placing kids in situations to appreciate the world, and learn from it. My lesson plans pull from many things, but you can see my primary focus: math and poetry.
Not that I'm a math genius or anything. Quite the contrary, I am mediocre at best at advanced math. But I like it. Oddly enough. I enjoy it. I think it's important. I think math and poetry are important things for human beings to understand and appreciate. There is a difference for my classroom though: I'm good at poetry. And I hate bad poetry.
I mean I have a seething, intense rage at bad poetry. Unreasonably so. To get a better understanding of what I mean, here is what I consider good poetry. Whitman, Creeley, Rumi are all good poets. There is no particular time or region that defines good poetry. There is just an aesthetic sense, a value of the poems themselves. I don't know if I can even explain why Ryokan and Zukofsky are both good poets. I don't know if anyone can.
Bad poets, on the other hand, are plentiful. Sometimes, like Nimoy, they are people who are good at other things and think they can try poetry. (Jewel, *cough*) Sometimes, education is the problem. They are MFAs in poetry and then write. It never works out for the best.
And here is my problem. I want to introduce, to teach them to appreciate. But education and poetry have historically created monsters. I think I can say without hyperbole that most poetry journals publish horror that is ten billion times worse than the next worse thing anyone can ever imagine in the history of the universe. I'm pretty sure I'm safe in stating that.
So, I will probably be careful. I will have the kids write poems. If they produce anything as bad as most poets, I will quit. I promise. There is always math. That can't hurt anyone, right?