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What poetry did you enjoy as a teenager?


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As a teenager I enjoyed Tennyson, the rhymes and the hypnotic rhythms, especially Mariana and Locksley Hall. Later it was Eliot and Auden, and even later at college much of Whitman. Pope, Milton and Wordsworth too. Much that they dish up for GCSE these days is just too thin and obviously geared to discussion of race, sex, violence etc. My favourite stanza for the very young is RLS's

 

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candlelight

In summer, quite the other way

I have to go to bed by day.

 

For older folk I'd suggest a couplle of Ashbery lines:

 

Memory can but stir cold ashes around

When the depths of time it endeavors to sound.

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I have to agree with you about the poetry done in schools today. I have two teenage children and they have both been recently studying poetry in their English lessons. My daughter happens to already have a love of poetry (and has quite a few books on it) but said that her teacher had made a 'rubbish choice' with what she had picked. She said that most of her class were bored and said they absolutely hated poetry. My son, however, does not particularly care for poetry but will read it. There are a few poems he likes and agrees with his sister that the teachers often make wrong choices. I think it is a shame because they are slowly turning children away from something that could give them a great deal of enjoyment.

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Most people of all generations either dislike or are very indifferent to poetry. It's certainly not a mainstream activity.

 

I don't understand it really. I don't think it's anything to do with the choice of poetry in school, but possibly in the way it's taught. I think I was lucky to have one or two good English teachers at school, but there were others who would see stuff in some poems that no-one else got and I got the definite impression that they didn't really see it too.

 

Actually, I'm probably being unfair to blame the fact that poetry isn't mainstream on teachers. There's so much other stuff these days to keep people entertained.

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Most people of all generations either dislike or are very indifferent to poetry. It's certainly not a mainstream activity...There's so much other stuff these days to keep people entertained.

 

That's it really, isn't it? Reading poetry as an activity is very out of step with the modern world. It's an activity that requires some thought and contemplation, not an approach generally encouraged.

 

Having said that, I didn't read poetry out of choice in my teens although my American literature course at university certainly opened my eyes to some very talented poets, Frost and Eliot in particular, and my Beat Generation obsession led me to Allen Ginsberg's work too.

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I need to whisper this: I'm an English teacher, and I don't read poetry by choice ...

I just don't. I read it professionally, but for enjoyment I read prose. There.

 

On the subject of teenagers, I had a great time today teaching Carol Ann Duffy's Havisham to a group of 16yos, mainly boys. They have been little gits lately, so I enjoyed making them uncomfortable, as the discussion involved references to menstruation, pregnancy, sex, and ... um... emasculation. Proof that, at least, poetry doesn't have to be boring ...

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As a teenager, I didn't read much poetry. At school it wasn't offered to us in any great quantity. However, my kids (two are teens) have all been taught about poetry at school. My youngest is soon to be a published poet and my middle child has just written the most amazing poem for a school poetry competition where the challenge was to write three poems in the style of Ted Hughes. I really think good teachers with a varied curriculum can make a massive impact on children and, of course, parents can too.

 

My favourite poet as a child, if you can call him that, was Spike Milligan! :)

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My youngest is soon to be a published poet and my middle child has just written the most amazing poem for a school poetry competition where the challenge was to write three poems in the style of Ted Hughes.

How fantastic! You must be so proud.

 

I wish my son liked poetry, but he's just not interested. He's got a new English teacher this year, who has at least ignited his interest in prose. She's a really nice girl, unlike his last English teacher who was robbing a living.

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Congratulations The Maid. Is it the Young Writers that are publishing your child's poem? They are absolutely brilliant and are always encouraging children to write - whether its poetry or stories. They recently ran a schools competition for secondary school kids to write a 'lyrical poem that broke the stereotype'. The best would be published in a series of books (which are due out about now). My teenage daughter is one of those whose poem will be published and I was curious if was from this that your's would be done too. My son has had to try writing a poem for school (not a competition) and found it very hard, as its 'not really his thing'. Although, he did find it an interesting experience as it was a War Poem and said it made him think more about how the soldier's felt during the battles.

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Yes, Karrie it is the Young Writers org. but this comp. was for Primary school kids and yes I am very proud! All our kids are gifted writers and artists. We have also enjoyed a couple of prizes through two of them winning local comps. for writing slogans and designing posters. The prizes were both tickets to see the local football team play. (Looking forward to when they win a family holiday, etc.!!!). Elsewhere on this site I mentioned that one of my sons is currently writing a novel.

 

I've probably said this before but I really do think that the Primary curriculum these days is much better at teaching kids about all forms of writing and encouraging creativity. When I was that age English was English and didn't overlap with any other subject and you just sat down and wrote on a piece of paper. My daughter enjoys doing the Topic work at school as they are allowed to choose how to present their homework, e.g. Powerpoint presentation, video, poster, model, prose, poetry to name a few. Kids gain a lot of confidence in choosing how to do their homework and exploring different mediums (and media!). Both Primary and Secondary school kids seem to be exposed to a wider variety of writing styles nowadays and encouraged to have a go themselves.

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....I was over doing being the Proud Mother. :o
:D When she's old and gray and you're long gone, this is something she'll still remember - but with fondness. Besides, embarrassing your kids is deeply embedded in the job description ;)

 

I've probably said this before but I really do think that the Primary curriculum these days is much better at teaching kids about all forms of writing and encouraging creativity. ...... Both Primary and Secondary school kids seem to be exposed to a wider variety of writing styles nowadays and encouraged to have a go themselves.

I think you're so right in many ways, but they don't place too much emphasis on punctuation and stuff like that these days. I feel like I have to point these things out myself, as my son's punctuation and sometimes grammar is appalling. I always got good grades for English homework when I was at school but would have had the red pen all over my compositions if the punctuation was incorrect. My son's style of writing however seems so much more confident than mine was, with a much more varied vocabulary and a willingness to constructively debate a point with lots of evidence to back up his thoughts and feelings about a piece of prose.
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but they don't place too much emphasis on punctuation and stuff like that these days. I feel like I have to point these things out myself, as my son's punctuation and sometimes grammar is appalling.

 

I agree but, after many a conversation through the years with my kids' teachers, have come to the conclusion that we too are here to educate our kids and shouldn't leave it all up to the teachers! If they only have a limited amount of classroom time and homework marking time then I am only too happy to be involved in teaching (and correcting) my children's punctuation and grammar. My daughter's current teacher has made an important point to me that my daughter is old enough and clever enough to look over her finished work and ask herself "how can I improve this?" and "have I made any mistakes?". I have noticed a change in attitude in my daughter since she has been doing this in that she doesn't mind being corrected at all and welcomes suggestions re. her homework and in other spheres. This should stand her in good stead for her teenage years when teenagers often think they are always right and won't listen to correction! (I hasten to add my teens actually, thankfully, aren't like this generally so we must be doing something right!). My final conclusion is that good teachers AND good parenting make a BIG impact in how a child behaves and achieves. Three cheers for good teachers.

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