We just finished up our own version of madness whereby 13 year olds recited poetry, and competed against each other until one poem stood the victor. It was fun, but too often excruciating to watch and listen to. So many students did not connect with their poets and their readings were dull and stilted. Kills me, a poetry lover, to hear Frost droned on like a boring tech manual.
I completely understand Collins:
Introduction to Poetry
|by Billy Collins|
I ask them to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide or press an ear against its hive. I say drop a mouse into a poem and watch him probe his way out, or walk inside the poem's room and feel the walls for a light switch. I want them to waterski across the surface of a poem waving at the author's name on the shore. But all they want to do is tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it. They begin beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.