TOP
Poetry

Homeschooling Teens: Exploring Music as Poetry

Call it stubbornness or persistence, but I mentally can’t let go of my aversion to poetry. I don’t understand why I dislike it so. Sophisticated, erudite people like poetry and who doesn’t want to be sophisticated?!

Why can’t I get past this? What is it about this stuff that makes me roll my eyes?

The magnetic poetry was perhaps a start in the right direction. But Fall is here and I’m usually excited to plan a fall-themed poetry tea time. Except I can’t muster the excitement for it this year. I seem to only sporadically sputter when it comes to poetry.

This is a mental bone I won’t stop gnawing. When I’m honest with myself, I feel aggravated with the esoteric quality of some poetry. I suppose it’s like Shakespeare. I don’t mind mental gymnastics, but maybe I do mind antiquated language gymnastics. I’ll work through it if I see a good reason, but to do so just for fun? I’m thinking it may not be my definition of fun.

I don’t know what it means, but I like it!

One day a years-old memory came to me of a family member making fun of me because I liked music “that doesn’t make sense.” (Email me for a list of my other shameful behaviors, such as “always shaves right leg first” and “thinks cilantro is an acceptable herb.”)

If I don’t like poetry because it doesn’t make sense, then why do I like music that “doesn’t make sense.” Because I do! I love Jack White’s music. But not as much as I love Jack Johnson’s. I own every one of his albums. I still have it hard for Pearl Jam and that’s been a 25-year love affair. I’ll even admit to my lingering teenage crush on the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Their songs “don’t make sense” in the way that Taylor Swift is clear about what you should do when haters gonna hate, right?

And it’s not like I listen to the songs and attempt to figure out WHAT IT ALL MEANS. I don’t. I just listen and sing along. Nonetheless, something about music that “doesn’t make sense” draws me in. Why does it do that?

Is it poetry set to music?

I began to pay attention to the actual words in Jack Johnson’s Ones and Zeros song, one of my top favorite songs of his, and I could hear the poetic quality in the opening lines.

There’s a black hole pulling me in
I slowly bend till I see the back of my own sins
I stole my soul from myself now I wonder

While running errands with my music-loving 14-year-old son, I raised the question if he thought songs could simply be poetry set to music. He was intrigued and it turned into a big, juicy conversation that spilled over into the next day.

I wrote the Ones and Zeros opening lines on our white board and we looked at it without the benefit of music setting a rhythm. I didn’t even tell him the stanza was from a song.

What did we think? Was that poetry? What made it so? Our answers: rhyming, line breaks and the fact the meaning wasn’t directly stated.

After telling my son it was a stanza from Jack Johnson, we decided to look at one of his all-time favorite songs and ask the same questions. The conversation progressed to what words we associated with poetry (his on the top left, mine on the top right), what genres/artists might be considered poetic and which wouldn’t.

It was such a fun conversation with my son. I loved hearing his insight and perspective on what and who qualifies as poetry. (Sorry, country music and death metal fans!)

Maybe it’s not poetry itself. Maybe it’s that I’m attempting poetry in a conventional way – similar to the way I was taught it in school. In my mind, I’m equating poetry appreciation with having to like classic poets, like Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Again, that secret intellectual snob comes to sit on my shoulder and tell me how I should be doing things.

There I was, thinking in a schoolish way and that was the problem. There’s a “correct” way to approach the appreciation of poetry and it’s in a classroom-type environment with a guided lesson plan and a poetry anthology full of dead poets.

But what if we find our opening to poetry through unconventional ways?

In fact, that may be the best way some of us find that opening.

I can’t say how this exploration into music as poetry will translate into a better overall understanding of poetry. That’s the sticky thing about rejecting guided lesson plans – there’s no outside learning “expert” to help you feel that Y will lead to Z.

For myself, though, I did gain insight that I personally like the melody of rhyming. That antiquated language is not a good place for me to dive in. And that I have a certain threshold for symbolism before it tips to annoyingly esoteric. Maybe that threshold will expand or maybe that’s just who I am – theoretical only to the point pragmatic quality isn’t lost.

Either way, I am looking forward to The Raven poetry party with a new perspective.

«

»

what do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instagram

  • Two years + two months to get back to my regular run time. (At the exact time of year it sucks to run in Atlanta.) Injuries, out of state move, steep hills, another move, another injury, strength training, PT that hurt like hell. But today I finally ran for 50 minutes with no pain. Everyone knock on wood for me.
  • Bookworm Party 2.0 is done! Glad I made the effort. One teen ate the other teen’s cookie. I headed off yet another teenage food war. Is there a Noble Peace Prize for that? (Squabbles over toys are a thing of the past, but now it’s food. 🤷🏻‍♀️)
📚
Our 2019-20 book list is selected, which was the point. That and an excuse for a little fun.
📚
#homeschoolhighschool
#secularhomeschool
  • Got a banner made for the bookworm party! I stumbled across a banner maker on clearance at Michaels today. Can’t wait to use it for our Poe Poetry Party in October too. And back to school. And Donut Day. Harry Potter’s birthday. Someone might need to lock up the banner maker.
  • Between a summer spent working full time, then an out of state move the same summer, another move the following summer, it’s been three summers since I’ve planned another bookworm party.
📚
A big stack of books, mystery lines pulled from them, fun treats. Teens having a decision-making role in their own education.
📚
That’s how I get my Type A game on. I invest in having fun, not dictating the book list.
📚
Why do I do this? Put my time and energy into something like this for high schoolers?
📚
Because time is short but memories are long.
📚
Because love feels like someone thinking of you, of planning happy surprises for you.
📚
Because home should be a place where fun happens.
📚
Because books are worth it, damn it.
📚
#homeschoolhighschool
#secularhomeschool
  • Cooking with my baby tonight. By his request! Makes my mama ❤️ sing.  Plus I get to play sous chef instead of head chef. (Dad gets to play dish washer. Sucker!) I love America’s Test Kitchen and I picked up their young chefs cookbook for summer fun. So far none of the recipes have disappointed.
  • You get to be who you are. Work with your nature, not against it. It’s possible to be a structured person but keep your relationship with your kids first. And that’s the key - relationship first, not the lesson plan. {link in profile}
•
#bravewriter
#homeschoolhighschool
#secularhomeschooler
  • Sitting beside him while he wrestles with geometry - it’s one of my favorite things. To hear and witness his mathematical thinking, to slip in with help when he needs it, it’s such a privilege to share this journey with him. I even love that his mathematical thinking is now faster than mine. Youth! It’s amazing!#homeschoolhighschool
#secularhomeschooler
#bravelearner
  • When your husband is on a business trip and texts you about his work accomplishments, this is what you texted back. Suuuuure, the client was impressed, but can you squirt yourself in the eye with a garlic press?
😜
This homeschooling gig, man. It doesn’t come with much outside recognition for your hard work or a job well done. Mostly I’m fine with it. But some days...

Follow Me!