Teaching from the 100 Best Loved Poems

(Imported from: [link])

100 Best Loved Poems is a compilation of famous poems, many of which you’re likely to encounter in school before you reach college.  There is a time and place for poets like Wordsworth, Frost, and Poe.  They are all canonical writers that everyone should be exposed to during their K-12 education.  I know I’d feel like my education failed me if I got to college without ever reading any of their poems (I feel this way about The Great Gatsby–yes, I’ve still never read it, what a shocker).

However, these guys are white males that lived close to 100 years ago.  Not only are their styles outdated, but the content of their poems are nothing close to being universal when you consider the racial diversity of our schools today.  As an Asian American living in Los Angeles in the 21st century, I sometimes wonder, what do these guys’ poems have anything to do with my life, why should I bother reading any of their work?

If I become a teacher, I will of course make sure to cover these poets from way back when, but I will also add in some contemporary poets like Kim Adinizio and Michael and Matthew Dickman, and also some ethnic poets, and maybe even some poetry from gay/lesbian writers, to give students a taste of both what’s being written much more recently and how race and other social identifications can affect people’s writing.

One publication that I love is The Best American Poetry, which is published annually, because not only does it include poems from the year it was published, making them the most recent, but it also includes writers of color.  I would want to teach this in conjunction with 100 Best Loved Poems  to show my students how vast the possibilities of poetry can be.


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