Today is the birthday of American poet Billy Collins. He was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. Born in 1941 in Queens, New York, Collins didn’t publish his first book of poetry, The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988), until he was in his forties.
As poet laureate, Collins created a unique anthology to revive verse in American schools, called Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. With this program, Collins set out to end the notion that high school is “the place where poetry goes to die.” Instead, he wanted students to see that poetry was meant to be read for enjoyment, read aloud over the school intercom, and shared. In short, Collins hoped to “suggest to young people the notion that poetry can be a part of everyday life as well as a subject to be studied in the classroom” (1).
Collins published a second anthology of poems in 2005 so that readers can enjoy year-round poetry. It’s called: 180 More: Extraordinary Poems.
Today’s Challenge: Poetry 365
What are some examples of great poems that are worth memorizing? Brainstorm a list of great poems that are worthy of committing to memory. These should be poems that are so good that you could recite them every day of the year and still appreciate their use of language. Identify one specific poem that you believe that everyone should know. Explain your case for what makes this poem so special. (Common Core Writing 1 – Argument)
Quote of the Day: The first line is the DNA of the poem; the rest of the poem is constructed out of that first line. A lot of it has to do with tone because tone is the key signature for the poem. The basis of trust for a reader used to be meter and end-rhyme. -Billy Collins
1- Collins, Billy. Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry. New York: Random House, 2003.