Haiku to you, too

April is National Poetry month. A few months back, we asked you, readers, to submit a poem in haiku form. The topic: something to do with newspapers. We said we would publish a selection of what we considered the best poems. Be sure to read the winners (page 20). They are a real treat.

We received poems from 299 adults and 57 young people, often multiple submissions. Thank you.

And as journalists up to our eyeballs in the newspaper business, our eyeballs popped at the many unique ways to consider a newspaper expressed by the poems submitted.

My favorite? Why newspapers prefer the bushes to a nice porch. In a bittersweet way, it reminded me of my experience as a young high school English teacher, decidedly naive about the level of interest in poetry on the part of my students. My attempts at teaching an appreciation of poetry landed in the metaphorical bushes rather than on the mental porches of my students' imaginations.

They dreaded having to read poems. I dreaded having to force feed them something I loved.

It wasn't until I went back to my college notes from my favorite literature professor that I hit on an idea that actually caused students to engage with poetry. I had scribbled in the margin: "Poetry as a summons to performance."

I shifted my approach. Don't just ask students to read or recite a poem, let them grapple with how to perform it.

Students' dramatic interpretation of poems allowed them, and their fellow students who watched and listened, to appreciate a poem the way Archibald McLeish liked his verse:

"A poem should not mean/ But be."

Comments, questions? Send e-mail to: Ideas@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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