As my brother and I were hauling our big backpacks into our house, we rattled off all the homework we had to complete. Sure, there was math and science and history, but we weren’t exactly upset that we had homework. We both were very excited to find out that, in all the years we had lived together, we both were assigned to complete the same kind of project… a poetry anthology. The only difference were the two teachers assigning it.
“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”
Poetry isn’t something we just write, we live, and breathe it. The world around us is a poem filled with beauty. Poets have always realized this in their pursuit of life. Whether we write it or recite it, poetry can be something we can all lean on. In fact, just recently, my brother, Gabriel, was invited to speak in front of the seventh grade class of North Pocono Middle School by Mrs. Cretia Roberto about poetry because of his involvement with Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation competition.
We have just completed our Poetry and Prose anthology in class and the impact it had created on me was a tremendous one. Originally, I was a little iffy on the thought of reading poetry and creating an explanation for it. I enjoyed reading poetry, but I was tasked with analyzing it and writing two very short theses on one of our poems we chose that represents us as a person. I chose Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree for a multitude of reasons, and realized that it is, like music, everywhere. From the tops of our fingers to the tips of our toes, poetry runs through all of us. It is only up to us to find it.
“It is the beauty within us that makes it possible for us to recognize the beauty around us.”
-Joan D. Chittister
Gabriel has also been fortunate enough to create his own poetry anthology assigned to him by AP English Language and Composition teacher, Mrs. Julie Morris. He was assigned to choose ten poems with a similar theme, and write an essay about each poem.
Mrs. Morris states, “It’s important to teach poetry because poets are just trying to figure out life and so are all humans. There are life lessons found in poetry as well as experiences of others that can help each of us get through tough times.” This is so very true and beautifully said. It exemplifies that even though one might think that the world of poetry isn’t for them or just isn’t what they enjoy, poets and all other people have similarities. We all have a goal of trying to find our purpose in life, even if we are just simply taking different routes and approaches to find ourselves; this is what poetry holds. It is the same sentiment that Mrs. Roberto tried to convey to her seventh graders as well.
“As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
So, why is poetry so important? How does it affect us and why? This answer must come from you. Poetry has a different meaning for everyone; poetry can be something you use when you are excited or angry or upset or even a combination of all of them.
Mrs. Cretia Roberto, has continuously shown us seventh graders how poetry is important to all, and that if we feel the words with our hearts, poetry will come out from inside everyone. She expresses this by saying, “Once a person can find some connection to the words, the magic begins. The connection can be a positive or negative one-it does not matter which- what matters is a person can feel something or be transported back to somewhere in his or her life. Poetry is a language that can illuminate times, places, emotions, or objects in such a way that people can relate to.”
For most of the last quarter, our anthologies have taken up our English periods. We have worked relentlessly to fill our books with poems that spoke to us and pieces of our own writing. Throughout the process, the seventh grade realized that even though everyone's anthology was different, more or less they withheld the same ideas and concepts. We all worked so hard on our anthologies, that we were compelled not to hand them in. Many children clearly stated this outloud! Mrs. Roberto, when we all started to say that we didn’t want to hand in our projects, simply smiled. When I asked her why she decided to assign anthologies to our classes, she responded by saying, first that it was an easy question, and, “My mentor, teacher, my inspiration, Elaine Lisandrelli started the seventh grade Poetry and Prose Anthology over twenty years ago. Ever since then, this project has grown and shaped itself into a form of self expression for many.”
Mrs. Roberto has taught poetry for many reasons. For one thing, she says “...allows me to speak to them(my students) on a different level.” Because of poetry’s emotion and feeling in our lives, we are filled with hope and happiness, as Mrs. Roberto has shown us, for she adds, “There is much hidden in the emotion of poetry that has let me teach writing in a different way.”
She has helped all of us find our way, even if it meant finding our way through the hall. Mrs. Roberto found her way through life with the help of poetry, even as a child. “Poetry, for me, has always started in my heart. I found poems in the back of teen magazines when I was younger and thought, ‘wow, how can someone I never met understand how I feel about love or broken relationships?’”
Mrs. Roberto grew up on Church Street in Moscow, PA. Afterward, she attended East Stroudsburg University because, as she states, “I knew it was one of the best ‘teaching’ schools in our state, and it was close to home, a place that I could never really wander far from...It was not until college that I began a different perspective on poetry. The first day of Professor Jim Harm’s class at ESU was magic. He had two pieces of paper on each of our desks. One paper had lyrics to a U2 song and the other paper was a poem about a Vietnam soldier. For an hour and a half my class and Professor Harms talked about the connections between both and I was sold. I was deeply moved by the way he taught his class and how my view of the world shifted because of it. Poetry can speak to anyone.” Now, Mrs. Roberto enjoys reading, spending time with her children, and taking walks in her neighborhood. I am so glad she decided to inspire us to find our voices through poetic words. I’ll be grateful for so many years to come. I’ll miss you Mrs. Roberto, your smile , your enthusiasm and your ability to “get me.”
“We all write poems; it is simply that poets write it in words.”
I encourage all to find at least one poem that speaks to you. You will know which one it is once you read it because the whole world will fill with color once you do. Who knows, maybe I’ll be a poet one day!
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its own thoughts.”