Wayback in elementary school, I learned how to recite poems. Some of thepoems were borrowed from the Bible and others were just simple poemsfor fun. Many of them did not make sense to me then until later muchlater. In fact, poems to me were something close to songs that Icould use to impress my teachers or even recite while in thebathroom. Today I appreciate the role these poems played insharpening my memory and even introducing me to new vocabulary(Taaffe, 2014). Around grade five, learning poems changed to a morecomplicated task. The teacher required us to analyze poems formeanings, grammar, stylistic and literary devices and style. Thisproved to be a very difficult task for me. I found it hard to analyzethem and even understand the hidden meanings. However, with time, Icame to learn all about it. This is my literacy journey on analysingpoetry from as far as grade three up to now.
Themajor influence in learning poetry beyond just reciting was onlybecause it was taught in class. My grade five teacher had aparticular interest in poetry hence poetry was heavily involvedliterature classes. This was despite the fact that many studentsincluding me disliked the complexity of analyzing poems. The teacherthus struggled to make us all have an interest in understanding whatlies beyond the rhyming lines in poems. She made us deeply aware ofthe role of creativity in playing with words to create rhythm andrhyme which by then did not make much sense to me. She provided uswith many examples of poems which we memorised and narrated in class.She in fact taught us the art of composing simple poems similar tosongs. Although I could hardly reproduce such a pattern in writing,some of these poems were marked and graded. Rasinski (2010: 7) saysthat in fact poetry in useful in identify gifted learners anddifferentiating language learning capabilities in students.
AsI progressed through elementary school, I came across more poetry.Analyzing poems through various tools and strategies in class was themain topic in poetry. The poems became more complex and even longer.Poems from other places such as Africa proved hard to understand asthe poets would discuss cultural issues which I was not familiar with(Cook-Gumperz & Gumperz 2013). To assist me in understandingpoems and the environmental factors that influenced the work of poetswas my older cousin. He gave me several books with numerous examplesof poems and their analysis. I was able to notice the variousinfluences such as apartheid, poverty, world wars, the Holocaust,industrialization, and love among other influences on the poets. Byhaving examples to learn from was very helpful. Some books even hadpoems followed by their analysis.
Myclass teacher was also very significant in development of my poetryliteracy. She taught me the art and skills of observing punctuationsto stay within the intended meaning, assessing the mood of poets,etc. I remember being very impressed with the manner a simple comacould change the meaning of a sentence or actually a whole poem. Thiswas very helpful to me in writing essays and compositions. Thinkingback, I feel that actively participating in class discussions ofpoetry and even volunteering to read poems in class was critical indeveloping my poetry skills and even developing my love for poetry.Scholars have identified students active participation in theclassroom is very important in building confidence and promotinglearning and understanding (Cooper 2013 Rhyner 2009).
Armedwith such knowledge and newfound confidence, I learned to employstylistic devices learned from poetry in writing my Englishcompositions. Additionally, proper use of punctuations has been veryhelpful in my academic writing as a student. My assignments now havemore colourful language and are entertainment to read. This is animportant way of encouraging examiners to read my assignments in fulland even award better marks because they can understand my pointsbetter (Cook-Gumperz & Gumperz 2013).
Havingdeveloped an interest in poetry, I have made several compositionsthis year. Most of these are on abstract topics but one main theme islove and relationships. This is very different from the topics that Icovered in my poems while in elementary school. The use of languageand style of writing is very different. I can clearly portray themes,narrate a story in metaphorical manner by hiding the meaning, andemploy vocabularies well and punctuate my writing better (Brynes &Wasik 2012). In the same length, I am livelier when I talk in publicgoing by the compliments that I have received.
AlthoughI have encountered many teachers who have taught literature andspecifically poetry, I was most influenced by third grade teacher.She introduced me to poetry in a deeper way that was paramount informing a long lasting relationship with poetry that lives on. Thisinterest in poetry has also driven my knowledge in poetry. Withoutinterest in the subject, my knowledge in poetry as of now wouldprobably be very basic for academic purposes only. Today, I cancandidly analyze poems and even compose several of them employing arange of styles, devices and techniques that I have learned over theyears.
Cook-Gumperz,J. & Gumperz, J. (2013). From oral to written culture: Thetransition to literacy.
InWhiteman, M. (ed). Writing:The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication.New York: Routledge.
Brynes,J. & Wasik, B. (2012). Languageand literacy development: what educators need to
know.New York: Guilford Press.
Cooper,J. (2013). Classroom Teaching Skills. New York: Cengage Learning.
Rasinski,T. (2010). Poemsfor Building Reading Skills.New York. Shell education.
Rhyner,(2009). Emergentliteracy and language development: promoting learning in early
childhood.New York: Guilford Press.
Taaffe,R. (2014). How Poems for Kids Boost Reading Skills. Retrieved onlineon 10thSept 2014