Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Any tips for teaching poetry?

Introduction to Poetry

By Billy Collins
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins, “Introduction to Poetry” from The Apple that Astonished Paris. Copyright 1988, 1996 by Billy Collins.


Unknown said...

Bonnie, you and I are doing the same thing this morning! I just came across a series of youtube clips of Collins reading his work...have you found them?
Here is "The Lanyard."

I love his "Litany" as poetry poking fun at itself.

Bonnie said...

Oh yes, that is a favorite of mine and my children and students!

L.L. Barkat said...

I love this poem. And it is great to use a poem to teach poetry :)

Noteworthy said...


I think that our bookclub book is like poetry, the way she writes, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp.

Her website too.

Enjoying it immensely, just not enough time to read with Mom in rehab and all to attend to before her move end of June to St. Louis.