Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poetry Across the Curriculum

With the start of National Poetry Month just one short week away, I've been thinking about how I want to mark the occasion on this blog. Last year, two of my favorite poetry bloggers, Greg K. at Gotta Book and Elaine at Wild Rose Reader, published a poem a day in honor of the month. I would love to be able to do something like this, but with the end of the semester, beginning of exams, and a conference taking place in April, I don't know that I would be successful.

Even so, I've been thinking a lot about what I might write. Since my passion is for information, I've been focused on poems for teaching. Largely, this means nonfiction. I love nonfiction poetry, so I was thrilled today to see David Schwartz's column at I.N.K. entitled Poetry in Nonfiction? In it he says:
So poetry can evoke a mood. There's a "Duh!" moment for you -- any English teacher can tell you that and I'm sure many did. Chances are that your English teachers were not thinking of non-fiction. But why shouldn't the wary eyes of the coyote lurking within the pages of a science book be just as mood-invoking as those of an entirely fictitious coyote? And why does the non-fiction reader deserve any less of a mood, conveyed in as few words as possible?
That's a really good question. I wish more teachers would consider the use of poetry for sharing information with their students. I think some are reluctant because it's POETRY, and for many people, poetry is a scary thing, but it needn't be. What they need is some gentle nudging and to be pointed in the direction of great nonfiction poetry.

Here's a start. Last year I wrote a post entitled The Poetry of Science. In it, I scratched the surface of some titles for teaching science with poetry. Elaine and others left some very helpful comments and expanded the list of titles. I also wrote a post on the Poetry of Math. I haven't written one on social studies yet, but will work on this as a project for April.

What are some of your favorite poetry books that share information in a nontraditional manner? I'd love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, if you're looking for resources for National Poetry Month, head on over to Wild Rose Reader and check out the post Gearing Up for National Poetry Month 2008.

**Updated** - I forgot to mention that the most recent issue of Book Links (March 2008) has an article by Sylvia Vardell called "Doing" Science with Poetry. It's marvelous! You can read a bit about this column at her blog, Poetry for Children. You can also download it from the Book Links site.


  1. Tricia,

    I've been thinking about my plans for National Poetry Month this year, too. I don't know if I'll be able to post an original poem-a-day as I did in 2007. That was a big--and time-consuming--effort for me. I think I'd like to focus more attention on getting my poetry manuscripts ready to send to publishers. I had planned to do that last summer--and then I had that monumental crash of my hard drive. So much for my plans!

    Thanks for linking to my "Gearing Up for National Poetry Month 2008." I hope teachers find the resources of help.

  2. it's not a poetry book, but pat conroy writes some of the most poetic descriptions of basketball that i've ever laid eyes on in his memoir, my losing season.

  3. that didn't come out very grammatically correct or poetic, but i think you understand what i meant. :-)