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  • Writer's pictureNathan Brown

What Might Save Poetry

When I visit middle or high school classrooms, I've noticed something--a dynamic--that I've struggled to put in words. Something that makes me say, to myself, each time, "Okay... I know how to fix this... but..."

Then, recently, I was reading the final essay in Tony Hoagland's book "Twenty Poems That Could Save America," and these words came blasting off the page:

“I have met, over the years, many remarkable English teachers who make poetry vivid and real to their students—but they are the exception. By far the majority of language arts teachers feel lost when it comes to poetry. They themselves were never initiated into its freshness and vitality. Thus they lack not only confidence in their ability to teach poetry but also confidence in their ability to “read” poetry! And, unsurprisingly, they don’t know which poems to teach.

The first part of the fix is very simple: the list of poems taught in our schools needs to be updated.”


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