March 2009’s Voices from the Middle included an article by Georgia Heard entitled “Celestino: A Tribute to the Healing Power of Poetry. ” In typical Georgia Heard style, the article is both eloquent and poignant. Early in the article Heard writes,
One of the reasons to invite poetry into our lives and into the lives of our students is to meet our invisible guests — grief, joy, anger, doubt, and confusion. We read poetry from this deep hunger to know ourselves and the world (10).
Poetry, more than any other genre, helps us to make sense of those things in our world that seem unexplainable. Heard encourages us to challenge students to find poetry that will inspire them to write. She asks students to “find a poem that tells the truth about their lives, their selves, or some part of themselves nobody even knows.” Heard refers to these poems as “self-portrait poems” (9).
This kind of immersion experience in poetry is powerful because it helps students connect to poetry, as well as to each other, strengthening the community of writers. I would like to extend the invitation for you to try this with your students, but first to try it for yourself. Will you find a “self-portrait poem” and then post it in the comments with a little explanation? (You could also post on your blog and then link to the comments.) I can hardly wait to learn more about our community of writers! Thanks in advance for joining.
Here is mine:
The Art of Living Well
Take great pleasure
in small offerings.
owes you nothing.
that every gift given to you
is exactly that.
Realize that people
who differ from you
can be founts of fun.
This poem is a tribute to all that I’ve learned about life and about people. The last stanza rings true, as I’ve found those who seem to be the most “unlikely of friends” are often the best in my life. (Stacey is a prime example . . . you probably couldn’t find two people more different than us & yet, I can think of few who are as good a friend as she!)