Today on The Heinemann Podcast: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater says poems can do everything and allow us to become who we are. Amy says there is magic in poetry and that magic translates into teaching. She says once we can get pas the idea that poems are in their own little word, they open up a world of possibilities in the classroom. Her hope is we can infuse everything with poetry. Amy doesn't just wish this though, she’s written for us a way to actually do it, in her latest book, Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres.
"Poems explore everything. You can go anywhere," explains Amy VanDerwater, author of Poems Are Teachers . In her new book, VanDerwater argues that poems should be the backbone of writing instruction, instead of being swept under the carpet as an afterthought. She shows us that there is a poem for every kind of life experience, big or small.
The following is adapted from Poems are Teachers: How Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Many texts grow from idea-and-belief-soil. Writers write about what they believe is important, what they believe is wrong, what they long to preserve. Editorial writers, reviewers, and cartoonists lay their beliefs bare on newsprint, greeting sleepy morning readers with coffee and opinion: Where is the hottest new restaurant in town? For whom should I vote? What’s up with concussions in youth sports?
National Public Radio featured a show titled This I Believe for many years, and at the website thisibelieve.org, you will find hundreds of belief essays by people of all ages and walks of life, essays about everything from attending funerals to being kind to the pizza dude.
In her book Writing to Change the World (2007), Mary Pipher asserts, “Writers can inspire a kinder, fairer, more beautiful world, or incite selfishness, stereotyping, and violence. Writers can unite people or divide them”
When we write, we nudge change, and it is our responsibility to think about what kind of writing change agents we wish to be. Which beliefs do we hold dear enough to share?
Amy’s grand title, Poems Are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres, names the promise of this book, and every ravishing word thereafter supports that thesis and never lets us down. Amy convinces us that devoting time to deep study and practice of the specific features and techniques of poetry will elevate any type of prose, and we should determine to make plenty of space for poem reading and writing in our classrooms.