Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Red Class--Billy Collins Poetry 180


Let's see. You struggled to name ten poems that you read prior to this class. Maybe you can read a few today (and increase your knowledge of poetry exponentially) before you decide on one to write about for this assignment.

Check out this list of 180 poems, specially chosen for high school students by Billy Collins (yup, the same one), the former poet laureate of the United States of America.

Read through some of them, find one that you like, then comment on "why" you like it here at Schoolsville.

As much as you may enjoy the poem's meaning, make sure that you comment on its "performance", to0--its rhyme, meter, structure, poetic figures of speech, use of sound, images, special diction, story, etc. ---in other words, whatever makes the poem "come alive."

As always write a minimum of 25 BLOG LINES OR 200 WORDS.

This assignment will be worth 15 points.


At 1:51 PM, Anonymous BFG RED said...

The Bat
Theodore Roethke
By day the bat is cousin to the mouse.
He likes the attic of an aging house.
His fingers make a hat about his head.
His pulse beat is so slow we think him dead.
He loops in crazy figures half the night
Among the trees that face the corner light.
But when he brushes up against a screen,
We are afraid of what our eyes have seen:
For something is amiss or out of place
When mice with wings can wear a human face.

This poem talks about bats, obviously, and contrasts them from different things and places. It talks about how bats and mice are alike, which they are, except bats hide on ceilings of attics and caves not basements and fields. This poem talks about the quiet stealthy manner of bats, sayings its pulse beats so slow we think its dead. Roethke tells about the nocturnal nature of the bat, how it wakes at night and roams the earth’s dark skies. You can only see these animals flying through the night skies if it flies through a moon streak. It tells about how humans are afraid of bats, almost fearing them as some foreign being. Theodore talks about how we flee from these creatures when they come near us by flying against a screen or some other sort of encounter. Overall this poem speaks of men’s distaste and distrust in bats in a very catchy, clever manner. I think Roethke would like us to learn more about these mysterious creatures and not be so ignorant of them.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous dm red (: said...

The poem I chose was Leaving the Island by Linda Pastan. This poem came to my attention because I saw island and knew that it had to deal with summer. The poem was about packing everything up and leaving the island because summer has ended. The people are packing their rugs and baggage to take onto the ferry. The poem repeats the lines; “we roll up rugs and strip the beds by rote.” And “the ferry is no simple pleasure boat.” I think they repeat because they are showing that summer is ending and everyone isn’t happy about it. When she talks about the ferry, she is talking about how going places on the ferry is always fun and pleasurable, but when you have to leave it’s never fun. The poem goes from the beginning where she talks about the very end of summer onto trading your swimsuits for the woolen coat. The poem’s structure was ABA for each stanza until the final stanza of 4 lines which was ABAA. The poem uses repetition of complete lines and also personification when it talks about the glaciers writing. The poem also has the image of actually changing your clothing from your summer swimsuit into a warm wool coat for the winter months.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous MG Red said...

The poem I chose is called Sure by Arlene Tribbia. It caught my attention when I started reading it. It wasn’t what I was expecting based on the title of the poem. Its about a girl who says she misses her older brother because he isn’t around because he got into drugs and crimes. It was sweet though because we have to remember that people who do negative things in their lives have families who do love and miss them. I think the repetition of the words “& sure” have a huge impact on the poem. It made me think. I liked they she used the “and” sign rather then writing out the word. The author listed all of the negative things her brother did but ended it by saying what she remembers about the time they spent together when he was around. There wasn’t many figure of speeches used in the poem which I liked. I don’t think it was necessary to the poem. It is not a lighthearted subject but it was written almost in a lighthearted manner. I really liked this poem. It caught my attention, which can be hard to do when it comes to poetry. I liked the meaning of this poem best. It pulled on my heart a little bit.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous LV red said...

My favorite poem out of the list of 180 poems is probably “The Summer I Was Sixteen” by Geraldine Connolly. It really does remind me of being sixteen. I can probably relate to it better than a boy could because it’s talking about girls being sixteen. Sixteen was the time of trying to be cute and bubbly; getting attention from boys. Everything was so much simpler at sixteen. Every day during the summer felt exactly like this; eating hotdogs, singing along to songs, cotton candy and laying out to tan. This poem is a free verse so there isn’t a rhyme meter but the poem is mostly based on the five senses. Every single word of this poem was thought through and written down in the strongest way to initiate the senses. Even the first line makes you picture it clearly; “The turquoise pool rose up to meet us.” It’s not just a pool, but instead it is the turquoise pool. You can almost picture the glistening turquoise water. To emphasize the girlishness of this poem are words such as bubbles, cotton candy torches, and furtive kisses. This poem almost plays out a whole day of a sixteen-year-old girl during the summer. The opening lines are the beginning of mourning when it’s just hot enough to go swimming. Next is the afternoon, around lunch time, where she eats hotdogs and drinks cherry coke. The next part is late afternoon when the sun is close to a sunset, which is where they talk about “summer shadows” and they enjoy some cotton candy and tanning. Then lastly, after hours of laying out tanning, its finally evening and she is relaxing, laid out on her chenille blanket listening to the radio and rubbing baby oil on her sunburned shoulders from laying out in the hot sun. She then looks at the world. It’s a beautiful end to a beautiful day.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous jprice red said...

The poem I enjoyed the most was The Summer I Was Sixteen by Geraldine Connolly. This poem was about what a girl does during the summer. Each detail describes the beauty of summer from a teenage girl’s eyes. This poem creates so many images. This poem creates the eye seen by a teenage girl and what her surroundings are to her in the summertime. This poem does not have much structure but has many detailed images. For example, turquoise pool, mirage of bubbles create a description. Alitteration is used within this poem sunburned shoulders, summer shadows, and cherry colas. I picked this poem because the summertime is my favorite season and I related a lot to this poem because it is told my a teenage girl. This summer is care free and has no structure just like summer time. Every detail can be seen, smelled, and tasted. This poem appeals to all of the senses. The feel of the sunburned shoulders, he taste of cherry cola and hotdogs. The sensation of diving into a pool and the mirage of bubbles surrounding you when you sink through. The view of the turquoiuse water and the feeling of having a crush on a new summer boy. The naming of each of the summer trees in blooms provides a ccreat depiction.

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous MwilliamsRED said...

I thoroughly enjoy Hate Poem, by Julie Sheehan, because of it amazing creativity and ability to evoke humor out of a serious emotion. Every line is written with outrageous personification, but makes perfect sense. When one has such a powerful emotion towards another person, truly, every part of their body feels it. Lines like “The flick of my wrist hates you,” Each corpuscle singing in it’s capillary hates you,” and “The blue-green jewel of sock lint I’m digging from under my third toenail, left foot, hates you.” are colorful, and interesting ways to depict the author’s emotion. The author describes her hate in layers, like a parfait. What could have been a generic poem of sadness was flipped into a humorous piece of poetry.

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous SC RED said...

When reading through the list of 180 poems, there were a lot that I really didn't like. I thought a lot of the poems seemed to be pros. Reading through them I realized that I did really enjoy a few of the poems, and all of these poems that I enjoyed were very simple. My favorite poem on the list is "The Partial Explanation" by Charles Simic. The poem is very vague in laying out the entire situation. It takes place in a restaurant of some sort where the writer is placing an order, waiting for their food, and observing. I think the poem is relatable to a lot of people. Almost everyone has had the same experience of waiting for their food, or being alone at a table in a diner somewhere. The poem also insinuates something else about the person. The short, simple, unexciting lines gives the idea that the person is very lonely. The poem has elements of darkness, time, and waiting. It also mentions longing. In fact, it mentions longing twice. The person says "a longing, Incredible longing to eavesdrop on the conversation of cooks." This to me makes it seem like the person is so lonely that they even have a huge longing and desire for any human contact, even if it's just overhearing the cook's conversation. it says the person has seen no one pass them on the street, giving an even stronger feeling of loneliness and isolation. The increase in darkness as they are waiting for their order implies that they feel ignored and abandoned. I think the poem really does a great job in making the reader feel the same emotions as the person in the poem.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous EPG RED said...

Many people do not like poems and I am one of them. I do like some poems though. After a long time of looking for a poem, I finally found a poem that spoke out to me. This poem’s name is “Alley Cat Love Song” by Dada Goya. A main reason why I read this poem is because it has the name cat in the title. I have two cats of my own and they are my best friends! I absolutely am a cat person and hope to grow up to have ten cats! This poem has repetition by repeating the line “Come into the garden, Fred.” Also talks about the sense of sound. A word in the poem is “croaking,” which refers to the sound of the frogs that he can hear. Also this poem has an end rhyme scheme like in the first stanza Fred, Fred, and head, then gone, on, and dawn all rhyme. Also the line “The nightjar calls from the pine,” and “The full moon lights my whiskers afire,” are two personification lines. The ending of the poem is perfect because the cat in the poem is just like my cats. If you close the door on them at night then they will meow all night to be a constant interruption for myself to either sleep or do homework. This poem really does make me smile whenever I read it because it reminds me of my own two cats. This poem is great!

At 8:33 PM, Anonymous MD RED said...

I chose the poem The Dead by Susan Mitchell. To me, this poem is about what people do after they die. More specifically, what our parents or other people that we might have lived with at one time when they were alive. It says that they worry for us. That they have old photographs and that they can read our palms and tell us our future, they search the attic for old letters they once sent us, insatiable for signs of their love. And that they wake us (the living) up in the middle of the night while they are telling stories and while they are drinking, just like they had done when we (the living) were children. This is just about how dead relatives come back home and try to connect with us, even though they are obviously deceased. I like this poem because it shows that people may die, but love never will. That death ends a life, not a relationship. And this is how I think that widows/widowers can go on with their lives, knowing that their love is omnipresent. I get images of shadows and creaky floorboards when I read this poem, perhaps I have watched too many horror films and heard too many ghost stories. This poem has 14 lines, which is characteristic of sonnets, but has no rhyme or form, so it appears to be written in prose form. Perhaps a prose-sonnet, unlike the better known Shakespearian sonnets. For me these things are what make The Dead come alive.

At 8:38 PM, Anonymous SH red said...

After reading a few poems I found one that I really like which is Love Poem With Toast by Miller Williams. I like this poem because it has a lot of meaning and I can relate to it. Also, I think that it makes a lot of sense and is so relevant to most people today. I think that a lot of people would agree with most of what the author is saying through out the poem. Even though the poem is titled Love Poem With Toast I think that it relates a lot to the busy, hectic, and pressured lifestyles of today. Don’t get me wrong, it is about love and how everything we do within our own lives can affect the way we love and our loved ones. The whole poem is basically imagery and you can really picture everything that the author is saying in your mind. I don’t think that structure in poetry is all that important but this poem has a nice balance of structure and non structure. Not all of the stanzas are the same length and not all of them rhyme which I like because then it is not so generic. There is some repetition when the author begins a few lines with wanting but then again that is what we do every day. Day after day we are continuously wanting and I think that the author is reminding us of that. While reading the poem you can actually apply it to your everyday life and striving for the things we want.

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous ASp Purple said...

The poem that I chose was The Death of Santa Claus by Charles Webb. I chose it because it just relives a memory that everyone can relate to. The time when they believed in good old jolly Santa Claus. But like us all, we grow out of this stage of life. We distinguish fantasy from reality and realize that no one, especially a rotund man with a fluffy white beard, lives in the North Pole. In the poem, it seems that the young kid has less faith in Santa than his mom. She wants her child to still believe, but sadly he is in that stage where it’s all just a made up lie. But anyway, I must talk about not only the poem’s meaning, but its structure as well. One thing that was very noticeable is the way the author breaks up his stanzas. He alternates the end of the stanzas by first breaking up the phrase by a comma and then at the end of the next stanza just ends mid phrase and continues it on in the next stanza. The next thing that I noticed is that there aren’t really any sentences in this poem; it is one big long run on sentence really with many commas in between and a period at the end, signifying the end of the poem. Each stanza only consists of three lines and no more. This is all fitting because these are the words of a child. These are the words of a child that no longer believes in the magic of Santa Claus.

At 5:59 PM, Anonymous azeroka said...

I chose the poem “Entrance” by Dana Gioia. I chose it because the lines spoke to me. IT talks about how you need to go outside of your shell and experience the world. It does so in such a powerful way though. It does not just say “Go out. Live your life.” It uses lines like “step out of doors tonight” and use your “eyes that have forgotten how to see. “ It is saying instead of living in this one sided box, this one way street you know, open yourself up to a few new shapes, a few new paths. It has a lot of poetic techniques which I really enjoy. One thing I noticed was that for most of the poem, every other line’s last word rhymed (I do not know if this was planned or not.) For example: tonight and sight, see and tree, alone and known. Then, at the very end the “see” and “free” rhymed. I also like the images she created “infinity is open to your sight”, acting like infinity is a real composed object. “Lift up into the dark a huge, black tree.” That line speaks to me a lot because when I think of it I think of taking risks and trying new things, things you thought you might never be able to do. When I read this, I can imagine this life growing out of the Earth. It makes me think of the video for “Window in the Skies” by U2 with the background pictures of birth and growth. This poet is urging people to take the risk, and see what else is out there. Use your fresh eyes and see a new part of the world – a new part of you. Find the strength to grow.

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous RN Red said...

The poem “The Poet,” displays particular interest because it shows the complexity and the individuality of a true poet. This poem captures what it means to write poetry. I believe the message is that poetry is not something one can simply study or even memorize. To write a good poem, the words have to come from something more that just knowing the definitions of phrases and memorizing words. True poets do not pay attention to things such as parts of speech or proverbs. I true poet does not just categorize things that are similar and make a poem out of them. The speech used in a poem does not have to make sense to anyone else, but the poet and who the poet is reaching out to. Many poets are simple yet so complex in many ways. Their minds are at times so in space and in their poetry that they may not know the meanings to simple words, questions, memories, and may not understand language at times. This poem captures the true essence of what a great poet truly is, and that is complex. A poet wishes not to interpret all of these things because in their mind, the poetry is all they have to answer to. This poem takes what most people consider important things to be a successful member of society and twists them by saying a poet doesn’t do any of these things. Poets seem to speak in their own language at times and they may not have a simple interpretation of a yes or no answer. They may analyze the question and give a fully unexpected seemingly illogical answer. Poets do not look at a picture and dry to pick and pluck the meaning out of it. They take the picture for what it is, being a true work of art that should be enjoyed simply. What may seem basic for us could actually be complex when analyzed by a poet, and what poets believe is basic and is complex to us.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous colemred said...

I really liked the poem My Father’s Hats by Mark Irwin. I get a sense of walking through a dream. Its almost as if I can hear a soft wind in the back round while walking through this dream. A lot of senses are used including touch, sense, and sight. The use of adjectives and verbs is outstanding and is really what makes this poem so good. It’s what makes it come alive the shortness of the poem makes poem so good. It’s short and to the point and leaves you with a good feeling. It plays on past feelings and brings to mind many of my own memories. There is no rhythm and its structure is just free. The analogies and comparisons don’t ever end in the story. I very much enjoyed the ending of the story. It leaves you with a feeling of uncertainty. The way the poem begins gives me a movie feeling. The author is just freely writing and enjoying himself all while doing it. It came easily, there was nothing forced about the writing.

At 9:00 PM, Anonymous JD RED said...


Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

I chose this poem because for some reason it just stood out to me. The poem seems to be talking about how luck the narrator is, and that they know things could be different. It also talks about how they know that in the end everything will be different. It talks about how he is grateful for what he has and not taking anything for granted. The images I get from the poem are the images of a man walking away with a faithful companion by his side, maybe a lab of some sort. I also get the image of a husband and wife sitting in a country kitchen eating and talking to each other with only candle light lighting the room. The repitition of the otherwise reminds us that the narrator never forgets that they are lucky to have what they have and that they realize this.

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous AC RED said...

The poem that I chose was "The Death of Santa Claus" by Charles Webb. This poems talks about a child finding the reality that Santa Claus is fake. It depicts the process in which a child comes to the realization that he/she has been living a fairy tale and has become fascinated with the fictional character known as "Santa Claus". We all can relate to this poem that Webb writes about because we can all remember the exact place and time that we were awakened to reality. Webb talks about every way of proving that Santa Claus is fake before allowing the reader to become aware that the main character's belief has become distinguished just like every other teenager. At the very end Webb talks about the mother's reaction and that which is of sadness. Usually it is as much of a shock for the child as it is for the parents because the magic that they have led their children into believing has become taken away from their lives. I enjoyed the author's use of description throughout the poem. It brought me back to thinking when I was told that Santa wasn't real. I also liked the simile of, "Rudolph's nose blinks like a sad ambulance". This figure of speech represents one of many uses of speech used throughout the poem. I also like Webb's choice of words. He uses adjectives that fit with their nouns like "jelly belly" in describing Santa's belly. Overall, I found this poem quite enjoyable because Webb wants each of us to bring back memories of our childhood.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous SED red said...

Out of the 180 poems, the one that caught my interest the most was "The Death of Santa Clause" by Charles Webb. Don't get me wrong. Most of the poems on the site worked within the context of my life. However, when I read this poem I laughed. I'm not sure if the death of Santa is supposed to be funny. The idea of Santa in the real world, however, is both funny and depressing. I'm not sure I can picture Rudolph being shipped away to a storage facility in Houston, Texas. This poem could have been made into a cute little rhyme. Instead, Webb chose to use no meter which gave this poem a little bit of a morbid tone. As stated towards the end of the poem, the narrator had previously been made fun of for believing in Santa. The idea of Santa among children was dying. It was ironic that while they spoke of Santa being unreal, he was in fact dying in real life.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous cd red said...

The poem I chose to write about is “Mentor” by Timothy Murphy. I enjoyed this poem because it was short sweet and to the point. It clearly states the poets regret from not acknowledging a teacher he once. I enjoyed it because it shows how the poet wizened with age. He realized he had a great opportunity to learn from his former teacher but chose to pass it up at the time. Now he knows the true value of a mentor and expresses just that in these short stanzas. Apart from the poems wise message to take the opportunities of the present, the poem also has a rhyme scheme making it “come alive”. the last word in every other stanza rhymes with one another. This creates a nice melody and tone for the poem.

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous NM RED said...

After Years

Ted Kooser

Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

After looking through many poems on the website, this is the one I finally chose as my favorite. The poem, After Years, is very entertaining and easy to read, while at the same time making a portrayal of a deeper meaning. In this poem Ted Kooser relates the feeling of love, especially teenage love, to the feeling of chaos. It tells about how crushes can seem so overbearing and control all sense of feeling and emotion, yet it is only a crush, only to be viewed from a distance. Many metaphors were used by Kooser to portray the overall image of puppy love to the reader: "Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound the glittering face of a glacier slid into the sea." Kooser did a great job of writing with clarity and precision, while at the same time maintaining the overall essence of confusion within the poem. I think this poem can relate to every person, no matter the age, because at one time or another we have all felt that sense of love and lust, only to have it pass quite quickly.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous SaB said...

I really enjoyed the poem "Numbers" by Mary Cornish. There is no real rhyme or meter to the poem, but I like it just the same. The poem talks about how the author likes numbers because of the way they are including. Each stanza shows a method in math and how numbers are "inclusive" using that method. Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division, it uses them all. A number can be used to describe anything no matter how good or evil.
I also really like the message of this poem. It speaks of love and inclusion. We should love one another rather than hate or discriminate. Learn to treat all people in the same loving and caring manner. Learn to be like a number.

At 11:58 PM, Anonymous courtm red said...

Bike Ride with Older Boys
Laura Kasischke

The poem is from the point of view of the writer. The poem talks about a situation in the past where the speaker was asked to go on a bike ride with two older boys. The narrator thinks back on her decision not to meet the boys and what could have possibly happened if she had gone and if she had not. The author talks about two different senarios. The one was if she went and everything went well. It could have been the best afternoon of her life. The other was if something bad happened leaving her ashamed and living with the regret of choosing to go. The narrator will never know what would have happened that day if she had went with the boys or not. When thinking back about it the author thinks of those boys waiting at the "stop n' go", growing older. I chose this poem because I liked how the narrator thought about what could have happened and does not seem to regret not ever knowing but rather just thinks of the boys waiting. I liked the line "My afternoons
were made of time and vinyl." When I read this I thought about myself older and looking back on a situation and wondering what could have happened or even regret doing something. Either choice the author chose would have changed her life. It could have been the best or worse afternoon of her life.


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