Tony Hoagland wrote an article about teaching poetry in school, or rather about the need to change how we teach poetry in school, called Twenty Little Poems That Could Save America. His idea is that poetry as a living part of the curriculum could become part of the daily fabric of thinking and decision making. Here’s one of the poems he mentions.
He said he would be back and we’d drink wine together
He said that everything would be better than before
He said we were on the edge of a new relation
He said he would never again cringe before his father
He said that he was going to invent full-time
He said he loved me that going into me
He said was going into the world and the sky
He said all the buckles were very firm
He said the wax was the best wax
He said Wait for me here on the beach
He said Just don’t cry
I remember the gulls and the waves
I remember the islands going dark on the sea
I remember the girls laughing
I remember they said he only wanted to get away from me
I remember mother saying : Inventors are like poets,
a trashy lot
I remember she told me those who try out inventions are worse
I remember she added : Women who love such are the
Worst of all
I have been waiting all day, or perhaps longer.
I would have liked to try those wings myself.
It would have been better than this.
I read an account of studying with Muriel Rukeyser by Sharon Olds. It made me wish I, too, had a wonderful poetry teacher. If there are good teachers out there, I am sure many will follow Tony’s advice, and support his hope that poetry could inform the American way of thinking.