Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry Friday: The Joys of Poetry 180

Are you familiar with Poetry 180? It's a program designed to help integrate poetry into the daily lives of high school students. Founded by poet Billy Collins during his tenure as poet laureate, it offers up an incredibly enjoyable poem every day for all 180 days of the school year.

If you explore the Poetry 180 site, you're bound to find a gem that you haven't read before. Better yet, you can subscribe and have each day's poem delivered directly to you. A collection of the 180 poems has been published as a book and it was so successful they published a second collection, too.

Poetry 180 is one of my favorite sources for discovering new poems. Once you start exploring it, you'll have trouble stopping. Check out Poem #36, which was delivered to me earlier this week:

The Printer's Error

Aaron Fogel

Fellow compositors
and pressworkers!
I, Chief Printer
Frank Steinman,
having worked fifty-
seven years at my trade,
and served five years
as president
of the Holliston
Printer's Council,
being of sound mind
though near death,
leave this testimonial
concerning the nature
of printers' errors.

First: I hold that all books
and all printed
matter have
errors, obvious or no,
and that these are their
most significant moments,
not to be tampered with
by the vanity and folly
of ignorant, academic
textual editors.
Second: I hold that there are
three types of errors, in ascending
order of importance:
One: chance errors
of the printer's trembling hand
not to be corrected incautiously
by foolish professors
and other such rabble
because trembling is part
of divine creation itself.

Read the rest of the poem here. I think it's a brilliant piece, don't you? There's a lot there for students to sink their teeth into. I hope you find some time to explore Poetry 180. Let me know what you think.

Poetry Friday, my favorite day of the week, features a round-up of bloggers which this week is hosted by the awesome Diane at Random Noodling. If you liked this post, you'll love the collection of posts featured there. You'll also want to be sure to subscribe to this blog via email in the handy sidebar widget or via RSS.


  1. Great poem! Some errors are, indeed, a result of "divine creation itself."

  2. I love Poetry 180, both the site and the book (there's more than one book now, I think, right?--though I only have the first one). It's one of my very favorite anthologies of poems for grown-ups.

    I haven't read this poem in a while, but it's a doozie. The last two lines you shared are my favorites:

    because trembling is part
    of divine creation itself.

    Happy Poetry Saturday!

  3. Oh boy. Before my very eyes, my 12-year-old is becoming the same painfully correct and corrective editor that I am, and I see how infuriating and arrogant I must have seemed to my high school drivers' ed teacher, who was really a coach, and who didn't care for correct punctuation or grammar. I see myself now and cringe, and yet I abhor the errors still. This poem gave me pause. Best line: "because trembling is part /of divine creation itself."

    Thanks for the reminder about Poetry 180. I've found some gems there before.

  4. My 16-year-old subscribed to the Poetry 180 site and enjoys it -- it's doing its job!

    Your poem reminded me of Taylor Mali's The Impotence of Proofreading. Have you heard/read it? Here's the text: You might want to hear him perform it on YouTube.

  5. That poem is hilarious. Thank you for sharing it!