“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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- 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?
- 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.
- Have a go at writing your own poem. If you like, pair it with an illustration.