Poetry 180

Poetry180.jpg

This week the blog is focusing on high school English resources. This is the second of three posts. There is a contest running this week associated with the content focus.

Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States put a project together to make poetry an active part of a high school student's day, every day. Poetry 180 was simple: list 180 poems, have them read. While I'm not sure the program took off in the way Mr. Collins was hoping, his collection of poems remains immortalized on the web.

Each poem has a footnote, a bibliography entry, and many poems have a one or two sentence explanation at the top of the page.  All the poems were specifically chosen for high school students. This will ensure that, although the subject matter may be a bit unfamiliar, the language is clean, the content is non-sexual and the reading level is on grade level for high schoolers.  

In a high school English setting this collection could be used as prompts during a poetry unit (and beyond). Because the collection is annotated, it could be the first stop for students to make if they need to do a formal analysis or paper on a specific poem or poet or, it could simply begin or end each class period; a way to get students settled and in the correct frame of mind.

Lastly, you can simply move through the poems as Mr. Collins intended, with his ultimate goal in mind: "Hearing a poem every day, especially well-written, contemporary poems that students do not have to analyze, might convince students that poetry can be an understandable, painless and even eye-opening part of their everyday experience."

How would you use this collection?