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Rhetoretician -- Fiction etc.

Poetry Aloud Suggestions?

Poetry Aloud Suggestions?

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Not sure this is a great idea, but I've resolved to begin each class session this term with a poem read aloud.  Since I teach business law, this is rather a strange thing (you should have seen the looks I got on the first day), but my instincts say it's good for them.  I've brought all my poetry books to the office (was pretty amazed by how many I had), and  I'm taking other poems off the Web as necessary.

I only have a few minutes at the start of class to do this, so I can't be goin' into epics or Four Quartets or anything like that.  Each class meets 20 times during the term.  The first day I gave 'em "Ozymandias," which I can recite from memory. The second day it was Edgar Lee Masters's "Herman Altman," which wasn't ideal, but I wanted to read something about "truth."

So: anyone have any suggestions for poems to read aloud? Sad, insirational, moody, optimistic, whatever.  (But not sexy, please -- I'm a male professor, and we can't be giving people opportunities to claim harrassment...)  No fair nominating your own stuff, but if you want to nominate your friends' (and I can get their permission), great!

  • I came across this by Don Blanding. His poetry is right up alley, nautical with words to twist around. This is a great read out loud one

    Names! The lure in names of places
    Stirring thoughts of foreign faces,
    Ports and palaces and steamers.
    Names are ships to carry dreamers.

    Pago-pago, Suva, Java,
    Langour, lotuses and lava,
    Everything a dreamer whishes,
    Buried treasure, flying fishes,
    Cocoanuts and kings and corals,
    Pirates, pearls and pagan morals,
    Rum and reefs and Christian teaching,
    Gin, and jungle parrots screeching.

    Kobe, Nikko, Yokohama,
    Views of sacred Fujiyama,
    Bales of silk and bowls of lacquer,
    Dragons on a sugar cracker,
    Temples high on pictured mountains,
    Purple goldfish, perfumed fountains,
    Amber, obis, geisha dances,
    Almond eyes and slanted glances.

    Places that I pray I may go,
    Rio, Terra del Fuego,
    Condors soaring in the Andes,
    Cloying Guatemalan candies,
    Pampas grasses, pink flamingos,
    Spanish girls who call us "gringos,"
    Llamas, lizards, smoking craters,
    Armadillos, alligators.

    Cairo, Carthage, Congo...CONGO!
    Names that like a savage gong go,
    Paris, Venis, gay Vienna,
    Cocottes' kisses, genius, henna,
    Gorgeous vicious mad Manhattan,
    Misery, motors, rags and satin,
    Moose and mice and sin and sago,
    Yaps from Yap or Winnebago.

    Every name a ship with cargo,
    Brass from Burmah, wheat from Fargo,
    Pots and prunes and precious metal
    Mined on Popocatapetl,
    Chests of carved and stained catalpa,
    Letters from Tegucigalpa,
    Linnen from an Irish shanty
    For a store in Ypsilanti

    Sailing ship and ocean liner
    Bringing stuff from Asia Minor,
    Ferry boat or lazy freighter,
    Folks from China or Decatur,
    Mozambique or Madagascar,
    Slav or Serb or savage Lascar,
    Barber, Berber or Brazillian
    Clad in blue or bright vermillion.

    Fascinating names of places
    Stirring thoughts of foreign faces,
    Ports and palaces and steamers,
    Names are ships to carry dreamers.

  • A wise old owl lived in an oak;
    The more he saw the less he spoke;
    The less he spoke the more he heard:
    Why can't we all be like that bird?
    --Edward Hersey Richards

    From my Best Loved Poems of the American People -- and one of the poems I memorized for a middle school poetry project years ago. A nice way for a professor to tell his students, "sit down and shut up and maybe you'll learn something!"

    Of course, my favorite poem from that book is I had but Fifty Cents, which is hilarious, but I'm not sure if it's appropriate -- maybe if you were an econ prof.

  • Too bad I can't think about any English poems - but I love this idea! You have excellent gut feeling, why not use it to pick out the book and poem too? Do you know any kinesiology self-testing? Or just focus on that day's lecture, and ask yourself to be guided to the right poem. It's amazing what comes up. I did it today with a Soul Coaching client, and what I got was spot on, but I'd never have thought about it by myself.

    Hmmmm... Maybe there comes a poem your way. But now there are kids that need to sleep.
  • I don't have a recommendation, but I want to say that I think this is a great idea. As a former business major myself, I would have greatly appreciated a professor who sought to keep my mind broadened and my thoughts out of the box with this kind of effort. Good job!
  • Kind of an Ode to Duty

    O Duty,
    Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie?
    Why glitter thy spectacles so ominously?
    Why art thou clad so abominously?
    Why art thou so different from Venus
    And why do thou and I have so few interests mutually in common between us?
    Why art thou fifty per cent martyr?
    And fifty-one per cent Tartar?

    Why is it thy unfortunate wont
    To try to attract people by calling on them either to leave undone the deeds they like, or to do the deeds they don't?
    Why art thou so like an April post-mortem
    Or something that died in the ortumn?
    Above all, why dost thou continue to hound me?
    Why art thou always albatrossly hanging around me?

    Thou so ubiquitous,
    And I so iniquitous.
    I seem to be the one person in the world thou art perpetually preaching at who or to who;
    Whatever looks like fun, there art thou standing between me and it, calling yoo-hoo.
    O Duty, Duty!
    How noble a man should I be hadst thou the visage of a sweetie or a cutie!
    But as it is thou art so much forbiddinger than a Wodehouse hero's forbiddingest aunt
    That in the words of the poet, When Duty whispers low, Thou must, this erstwhile youth replies, I just can't.

    Ogden Nash

    Before, when you got mail,
    It was a chap in a cap with a sack packed full;
    Before, when you researched
    You sat and sweated in a library that was just this side of dull;

    And when you booked your holidays
    You stood there in a queue
    Behind a family of five and a pensioner or two
    And life seemed so much slower, somehow;
    There was acres of last week and just half a glimpse of now;

    Today you click
    On a mouse
    And you can shop till you drop without leaving the house
    And now you send
    Your blogs
    Right across the globe and the photos of your dogs
    Can appear on your site in the twinkling of an eye
    And in a tick you get a picture back of Grandma saying Hi!
    Framed against the backdrop of a California sky…

    And it’s been fifteen years from before to this
    And now we’re living in a universe of constant cyber bliss!
    And like the first fire in the cave
    Or the first turning of The Wheel
    The internet is changing how we think and speak and feel
    And in the next fifteen years the net will turn and twist again
    And go down murky sidestreets far beyond this Barnsley brain
    And one thing’s certain: the net is here forever,
    Constant as taxes, unpredictable as weather…

    And before I’m dragged right under in a growing tide of spam
    I’ve time for just this one last post: I click therefore I am!
  • Nice Day for a Lynching

    The bloodhounds look like sad old judges
    In a strange court. They point their noses
    At the Negro jerking in the tight noose;
    His feet spread crow-like above these
    Honourable men who laugh as he chokes.

    I don't know this black man.
    I don't know these white men.

    But I know that one of my hands
    Is black, and one white. I know that
    One part of me is being strangled,
    While another part horribly laughs.

    Until it changes,
    I shall be forever killing; and be killed.

    Kenneth Patchen
  • I highly recommend our current poet laureate, Kay Ryan! Her stuff is compact, pity, profound and funny. Or at least witty.

    Sort of a twenty-first century Emily Dickinson.

    I'll have to think about specific poems....
  • (Anonymous)
    Anything by Robert Frost. *sigh*
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