Poetry

“There are three things, after all, that a poem must reach: the eye, the ear, and what we may call the heart or the mind. It is the most important of all to reach the heart of the reader.” — Robert Frost

This Thursday is World Poetry Day, a global celebration of reading, writing and listening to poems.

Last year, a study in the US found that poetry was gaining popularity again for the first time in two decades. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, only 6.7% of Americans read poetry in 2012. But the numbers have been climbing steadily, and by 2017 it reached 11.7%.

The rise was particularly noticeable among young people. This is probably thanks to the rise of Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur, a Canadian poet and illustrator who has released two bestselling books. Kaur uses social media to pair short, simple lines of poetry with elegant line drawings.

“and here you are living / despite it all” reads one poem.

“my mother sacrificed her dream / so i could dream” reads another.

Some accused Kaur of oversimplifying and “dumbing down” poetry. Others hail her as a fresh, accessible new voice.

What do you think? Is poetry making a comeback? Who is your favourite poet?

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Assembly

What makes a poem a poem? This short video explores the question.

Activities

  1. Listen to Rupi Kaur read her poem “Vacation” from her first book, Milk and Honey. Discuss as a class: what is the poem about? And is it any good?
  2. Take it in turns to read your favourite poem to the rest of the class. If it is too long, read your favourite lines or stanza.
  3. Have a go at writing your own poem. If you like, pair it with an illustration.