Sunday, August 17, 2008

poetic youth

At the beginning of every school year I ask my students--high school or college level--to respond in writing: What kinds of writing do you like to do? Without fail, every year the most common response is poetry. They like to write poems.

Now, sometimes a few students will write specifically that they create song lyrics, but by far the most common response is poetry. When I first started asking this question, I was surprised. When I tell my students the results of their written responses, they are surprised. We shouldn't be. Throughout history, the best poets have generally been young.

It probably seems surprising to us that teens would invest in time writing poetry because they have so many other ways to spend their time. We constantly hear how the bombardment of technology usurps the mental energy of youth. Yet, giving credit where credit is due, technology may be the perfect vehicle for reading, writing, and critiquing the ages-old practice of poetry.

Welcome to the Young Writer's Society (YWS):
Specifically created for young writers ages 13 to 25, we are an online community where we share a common passion for creative writing.

The poetry section accepts entries into three distinctively defined categories: dramatic, lyric, narrative, plus 'other' for whatever doesn't fit. There are rules, too. Site administrator, 25-year-old Nate, lists a few:
  1. Be sure that all the grammar is up to standard. Do whatever you have to do to post a grammatically sound story. (common courtesy!)
  2. Try not to preface poetry or fiction. If you have to explain to your critics what the piece is about, you are not doing your job as a writer.
  3. Write constructive critiques. Constructive posts do not include things like, "this was super dooper! keep writing!"
Great advice all around.

I'll leave you with the opening lines of "The Last Word," a poem posted today by Gadi:

There it is—a faux pas in society,
lying feeble on this very page,
a cube, a puzzle piece, a block—
something like a sizzling fluorescent
light in an underground chamber,
resembling a migraine in the crooks
and corners of your brain.

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