Many people don’t care for poetry. They may find it difficult to read, even more difficult to understand, and just as difficult to enjoy. As a result, they avoid poetry altogether; and when they have to read it—say, when a list of poems is assigned for the reading in a college literature course *wink wink*—they simply endure the task for the sake of a grade. This attitude may in part be the result of students having been taught that a poem’s ultimate value resides in what the poem means and that to uncover this value, a poem must be dissected and its parts scrutinized for hidden or symbolic meaning.

American poet and teacher Billy Collins laments this attitude. In his poem titled (appropriately enough) “Introduction to Poetry,” Collins describes how he tries to move students beyond this limited way of reading. Link through and read Collins’ poem (aloud, if you like; you could also follow along as Collins reads it; this video illustrates the poem nicely). After you’ve finished reading, freewrite for 5 minutes about how you could apply Collins’ suggestions in your encounters with other poems. During your freewrite, don’t stop writing once you’ve begun and don’t self-edit. Trust your first thoughts and pursue them wherever they lead. Once you’ve concluded your freewriting session, reread one of the poems assigned for this week (as always, this could include what you read for individual choice) applying the ideas you explored in your freewrite as you reread the poem. Then reflect on how those ideas influenced (or not) your encounter with the text and how your encounter differed (or not) from your previous experience with poems. Your reflection should be at least 100 words.

For your initial response to this discussion prompt, post the text you produced during your freewrite as well as your 100 word reflection. Then comment on at least three other posts throughout the unit in posts of at least 50 words.

Post your initial response to the Intro to Poetry page on our G+ community then reply directly to your peers’ G+ posts.