Teaching with Poetry to Build Reading and Writing Skills MLA 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Nate Mickelson, Guttman Community College (CUNY)

This proposed special session explores innovative pedagogies that use poetry to challenge and engage developing college writers. The session has roots in Retallack and Spahr's Poetry and Pedagogy (2007), a collection of theoretical and pedagogical essays focused on contemporary poetics, and the Poetry Foundation/McSweeney's guide to using poetry in elementary and secondary-level teaching, Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (2013). The session seeks to promote conversation about the roles poetry plays in undergraduate education, especially in the context of reading and writing instruction. In their introduction, Retallack and Spahr frame the teaching of poetry as crucial both to enriching the work of the academy and sustaining a thriving democracy because it "enliven[s] our capacities to make sense of where we are [and] where we want to go." Following their lead, the session proposes that working with poetry provides students unique opportunities to develop active reading practices they can apply in interpreting other complex texts. Such reading practices also serve as an important foundation for the improvement of writing skills.

Proposals should describe pedagogical strategies, classroom activities, and assignments that emerge from questions such as: How are poetic texts different from other literary and non-literary texts in the context of reading and writing instruction? What opportunities does engagement with poetry provide for mastering skills applicable in a range of disciplines? What methods from creative writing classrooms can be applied in other classrooms? How are reading and writing linked in the study of poetry?

Please note: this is not a guaranteed session. Submit 300-word descriptions by 14 March 2014 to Nate Mickelson at nate.mickelson@guttman.cuny.edu.