Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I just found the most wonderful thing. As I was carousing around on the internet, I happened upon Poetry 180: A Poem A Day For American High Schools, a site by former poet laureate, Billy Collins, and part of the Library of Congress.

Japanese style silk painting of large waves with mountain peak in background in blues and browns
"Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. I have selected the poems you will find here with high school students in mind. ... Listening to poetry can encourage students and other learners to become members of the circle of readers for whom poetry is a vital source of pleasure. I hope Poetry 180 becomes an important and enriching part of the school day."

The first poem in the list is by Mr. Collins, himself, entitled -
how appropriate:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.

Copyright 1988 by Billy Collins. All rights reserved.

I have added the link to Poetry 180 on the left. It is a great idea from a poet I truly enjoy. There are many names in the poetry list I am unfamiliar with, and that gives me a chance to broaden my own horizons. Who knows, I may even find a new favorite or two (or three).

You can find the Poetry 180 Homepage on the link to the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center. It is definitely worth perusing. A permanent link to the Library's home page is offered at left, also under NEXUS.

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