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Tutor Tip of the Month

Exercising Poetic License

Poetry can be intimidating for even experienced readers. Poems, however, with their shorter lines can be among the more accessible texts to read. For new readers, it helps to select poets who use everyday words and expressions. Billy Collins, the former U.S. Poet Laureate, for example, may be one to try.

Some learners may be willing to try writing poems modeled after another poet’s. While learners have the structure with which to work, it also invites them to look closely at the words selected, their sounds, and their multiple meanings. Writing in a way that is less formal than an essay or story can help beginning writers to build confidence and more advanced writers to develop their voices. The Baltimore County Public Schools has suggestions on getting started:

In addition to the library shelves, you can find an abundance of poetry online. A few resources are:

Seeing poetry read aloud can be inspiring. In the Bay Area we are fortunate to have a lively poetry scene. Poetry Flash’s web site and print publication are good places to check for upcoming readings.

Al Young, the California Poet Laureate, will be making a local appearance later this year at San Jose’s Library Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. He is scheduled to read on December 7, 2006, 7:30pm-9pm.

Follow his schedule at:

Poetry is powerful. It has commented on and influenced world events. Opening this avenue of word power can be empowering.

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