During the school year, I find it harder to read as much as I do in the summer. I’m reading for my two preps, answering emails, and grading papers (as you all are, too). So I find that poetry sometimes is my best option to get in my fix for stories and for prose.
Every year in State College, the American Association of University Women holds an amazing book sale--with thousands of books–over the course of 4 days. This year, I decided to work on my poetry collection, so I came home with about twenty books of poetry. Maxine Kumin’s Looking for Luck was one of them.
What is beautiful for me about her poems is how they are mostly about the mundane and the memory. The book is split into three parts and an epilogue, and I find myself thinking of students or colleagues or myself as I read these. In part one, “Hay,” a long poem about “these late-August heroics” of baling, I am reminded of my students who want to bail of of class to get home to their farms to do chores. In part two, the occasional poem “On Visiting Flannery O’Connor’s Grave” tells the story of a book lover making a stop and an observation “what can an outsider know, except the shell of things?” Part Three offers up “The Chambermaids in the Marriott in Mid-Morning” about the women “who are never done scrubbing with Rabelaisian vigor.”
My love for reading poetry has grown as I’ve grown, and I find myself reading more of it now than I ever have. Perhaps it is because as I age, I realize my time in life is limited, or perhaps I just better appreciate the precision and skill a finely wrought poem displays. Whatever it is, I am happy to be able to take short flights of imagination via poetry. Consider encouraging your students to read and write poetry, too. I just found out about the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, which offers a poetry contest to students in grades 5-12 .