Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gift of Poetry

Unexpected gifts are always a double-edged sword for me. Maybe it's my personality, I don't know. Before the Christmas break, a teacher I work with gave me a poetry anthology called Teaching With Fire. I thought this was incredibly thoughtful and I was touched that she would think enough of me to remember my love of poetry when picking me out a gift. On top of that, it was completely unexpected, making it all the more meaningful. I only felt bad because I hadn't bought anything for her, hence the double-edged sword effect.

Don't worry, I got over it and soon found that there are lots of great poems contained within (despite its slightly cheesy subtitle: "Poetry That Sustains The Courage To Teach"). The poems are accompanied by vignettes written by the educators who selected them, too, and most of them are pretty interesting.

So if you're a teacher and you like poetry anthologies like I do, even if you never read anything but the poems, this is a pretty good collection. And I think it would make a great gift for a colleague or a teacher-friend as well. I know I've enjoyed it.

Finally, here's one of my favorite poems from the book. It's by the great William Stafford:

The Way It Is

There's a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

It's one of many in Teaching with Fire that were new to me. If you get a chance to check out this book, I hope you enjoy it.

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