“I hate poetry,” unfortunately those words were the truth of my existence for many years. They prevented me from becoming an English major, steering me toward science — give me biology and chemistry, not symbolism and personification. Embarrassingly, I even taught for a year while still hating poetry. I had never learned the point of it, much less the power of it.
Then I was introduced to Ralph Fletcher and his “little books.” One of these changed my life as a writer, a teacher, and most importantly as a lover of ordinary moments. Poetry Matters is a book dedicated to learning poetry from the inside out. First starting with the pillars of poetry (emotion, image, and music) and then showing ways these pillars come alive in poems.
Ralph’s words resonated within me and I realized that poetry is the perfect genre because it gives us a “canister” to put all of the feelings, thoughts, emotions, and living into. Poetic devices like symbolism and personification began to make sense because their purpose was greater than to torture high school students. What I found was poetic devices helped me express the truth of my life.
Poetry Matters inspired me to begin reading poetry with my eyes wide open (and my mind too!). I picked up Georgia Heard, Eloise Greenfield, and others just to enjoy their words. What I found was my eyes were open to the world and suddenly I was connected to poems in ways I never was before.
Poetry Matters is all about writing poems, not analyzing them. Soon my fingers were itching for a pen to try my hand at writing poetry. What I found was I loved writing poetry.
Through this process of discovery, I’ve found power in poetry. I believe poetry matters. I believe there is a place for it in every classroom, pre-k and beyond. And I believe it is up to us, those who have seen the power of poetry, to share it with others.