April 5, 2007

Billy Collins Wins The Final Four of Poetry

Filed under: Authors,poetry,Word play — seth @ 7:06 am

\  Comrade Past & Mister Present it was today The Wild God of World: An Anthology of Robinson Jeffers Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day Nine Horses: Poems

Here are the final rounds in our Poetry Final Four.

Out of the East Region comes the ten seed Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins.  Collins’ opponent was the sixth seeded survivor of the South Region, The Execution by Andrei Codrescu.  In the other game, the Midwest twelfth seeded Love Rode 1500 Miles by Judy Grahn went up against Robinson Jeffers’ To The Stone-Cutters, which was the sixteenth seed out of the West Region.

Gun in the House outlasted The Execution in a nail biter.  Combining word repetition with an accessible sense of humor, Collins was able to connect with my students on a variety of levels.  Codrescu never gave in, and his visual style kept him in it late.  I think a perceived sense of fatalism did The Execution in, although it provided a dark humor that helped the poem in earlier rounds.

In the other game, Love Rode 1500 Miles powered by To the Stone-Cutters.  Metaphor proved no match for personification with my students, as Grahn’s use of romantic imagery generated much emotion and reaction.

The finals were a great contest as the Collins poem came out on top.  Although Grahn’s poem lead to a great discussion on whether or not one can “wait actively”, Collins’ barking dog was a favorite throughout the tournament.  I believe that both of the poems work well at a very literal level, which appeals to my students.  The nice thing is that both contain so much going on under the surface that once I have literally hooked my kids, I can reel them in metaphorically.  Anyway, getting a chance to look at so many good poems made me a winner.

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March 30, 2007

The Great Poetry Eight

Filed under: Authors,poetry,Word play — seth @ 8:58 am

 Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers: Volume Two: 1928-1938 (The Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers) Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World \ Tales of Ordinary Madness Ham on Rye: A Novel

I’ll post the great eight matchups with links to the actual poems today.  I would love some comments, so please don’t be shy.

EAST REGION

10) Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins vs. 3) I’m Nobody! by Emily Dickinson

This is a tough matchup.  The Dickinson poem is a perennial favorite with teenagers, and the kids at my school are no exception.  The Collins poem has a sense of dark humor to it that also appeals to a younger audience, I think.  How does one pick a winner?  In this case I am going with context and Collins.  Gun in the House illustrates some of the difficulties of living in urban and suburban clusters.  The theme of modern struggle seemed to resonate with this group this year.

SOUTH REGION

6) The Execution by Andrei Codrescu vs. 10) Hidden by Naomi Shihab Nye

I went back and forth on this one, but I chose the Codrescu poem to move to the Final Four because of a discussion the kids had that moved from my class to the lunchroom.  It started with the idea that “blank fate” is an oxymoron.  Another student argued that was redundancy, because all fates are blank.  Only choice provides substance, and if we are all fated then we might as well “keep a gun in the house.”  It was one of the best discussions I’ve seen out of students this year.

MIDWEST REGION

 3) Weird-Bird by Shel Silverstein vs. 12) Love Rode 1500 Miles by Judy Grahn

Love Rode 1500 Miles was a favorite of kids whose relationships exist electronically and they do not have to travel 1500 centimeters.  In the end, Weird-Bird needed less weirdness and more substance for the students to have it move on.  They enjoyed the humor, and the “go your own way” attitude, but Grahn’s piece was too strong.

WEST REGION

16) To The Stone-Cutters by Robinson Jeffers vs. 4) 16-bit Intel 8088 chip by Charles Bukowski

A clash of varying technologies.  In the end the older technology won out.  I guess rock beats Pentium.

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March 29, 2007

Poetry Sweet Sixteen

Filed under: Authors,poetry,Word play — seth @ 8:36 am

Gary Soto: New and Selected Poems  New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City Flying At Night: Poems 1965-1985 (Pitt Poetry Series) Love Is a Dog from Hell: Poems, 1974-1977  Maud Martha What Have You Lost? The Trouble with Poetry: And Other Poems

Here are the Sweet Sixteen matchups and the winners in bold.  We had a little bit of a mix up in how my wall bracket was organized and several kids misread the matchups, so I have had to interpret results and seeds.  Fortunately this is poetry, not math.  Where the seeds do not follow the NCAA bracket, sticklers will have to deal.

EAST REGION

1) Fire and Ice by Robert Frost vs. 10) Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins
5) Old Men by Ogden Nash vs. 3) I’m Nobody! by Emily Dickinson

SOUTH REGION

8) Bone by Claudia Emerson vs. 10) Hidden by Naomi Shihab Nye
6) The Execution by Andrei Codrescu vs. 5) Expect Nothing by Alice Walker

MIDWEST REGION

1) We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks vs. 12) Love Rode 1500 Miles by Judy Grahn
3) Weird-Bird by Shel Silverstein vs. 15) After Years by Ted Kooser

WEST REGION

16) To The Stone-Cutters by Robinson Jeffers vs. 6) Japanese-American Farmhouse, California, 1942 by Sharon Olds
4) 16-bit Intel 8088 chip by Charles Bukowski vs. 7) Mission Tire Factory, 1969 by Gary Soto

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March 28, 2007

Second Round Matchups and Winners

Filed under: Authors,Culture of the Book,poetry,Word play — seth @ 11:23 am

The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath  Elegy for Etheridge: Poems Another Mother Tongue The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven Collected Poems 1947-1997 Queen of a Rainy Country: Poems

Here are the second round matchups and winners (in bold) for the Poetry March Madness.  When we get down to the final eight teams, I will provide some feedback on the decisions for each winner.

EAST REGION

1) Fire and Ice by Robert Frost vs. 9) Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath
5) Old Men by Ogden Nash vs. 4) Resume by Dorothy Parker
6) Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes vs. 3) I’m Nobody! by Emily Dickinson
10) Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House by Billy Collins vs. 15) Anecdote of the Jar by Wallace Stevens

SOUTH REGION

1) Lyric: I Am Looking At Music by Pinkie Gordon Lane vs. 8) Bone by Claudia Emerson
5) Expect Nothing by Alice Walker vs. 4) Momma Welfare Roll by Maya Angelou
6) The Execution by Andrei Codrescu vs. 14) What We Want by Linda Pastan
10) Hidden by Naomi Shihab Nye vs. 15) Gunner by Randall Jarrell

MIDWEST REGION

1) We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks vs. 9) Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar
12) Love Rode 1500 Miles by Judy Grahn vs. 4) Let Us Have Madness by Kenneth Patchen
6) The Laughter of Women by Lisel Mueller vs. 3) Weird-Bird by Shel Silverstein
10) To the Pay Toilet by Marge Piercy vs. 15) After Years by Ted Kooser

WEST REGION

16) To The Stone-Cutters by Robinson Jeffers vs. 5) Oppression by Jimmy Santiago Baca
9) Evolution by Sherman Alexie vs. 4) 16-bit Intel 8088 chip by Charles Bukowski
6) Japanese-American Farmhouse, California, 1942 by Sharon Olds vs. 3) An Eastern Ballad by Allen Ginsberg
7) Mission Tire Factory, 1969 by Gary Soto vs. 15) Where my sight goes by Yvor Winters

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