* The roar on the opposite aspect of Suzanne Underwood Rhodes
Is poetry writing outdated? It doesn't have to be, especially for Christians.
* The Roar on the Other Side: A Student Poet's Guide by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes. Canon Press, 2000. 192 pages.
Reading level: Young people from 12 years
Recommended for: Young people from 12 years
Poetry begins with silence – not with silence in the world, but with silence of the mind.
Introduction, p. 11
"Silence of the Mind" sounds more important than ever in our current era of hectic headlines about a pandemic, urban violence, racism, economic consequences, upcoming elections, etc.
Perhaps this is the year we do poetry to counter the "news noise". The roar on the other hand is just the guide to help you and your teenagers with this.
Rhodes wrote this student guide, but it's not overly academic. Chapter titles include interesting names like “white whales and swimming hats” as well as more traditional topics like “genres”. The first 10 chapters work systematically with various elements of poetry (imagery, form, meter, etc.) and include “stepping stone” activities in which students apply the material from the chapter. Chapter 11 is a guide to reading and revising poetry. The 12th is a beautiful mini poetry anthology.
But there are other guides for writing poetry as well. What really distinguishes it? Rhodes writes from a firmly Christian perspective and constantly encourages the reader to look to both God and Scripture. She encourages students to pay attention to the world created by God and to keep a notebook throughout the course. Activities include playing with the language as well as writing more formal poetry. It reminds readers that God is transforming our sacrifices; We write for God's glory, not our own, and leave the rest to Him.
“There are, of course, limits that exist as sacred truth. To write a poem that advocates a racist point of view or blasphemies and tarnishes the creative act….
Christ redeemed the whole man or woman, including the individual imagination. But the terrain is not without danger. There are jackals and lions, two-legged hunters, storms, drought. Writers face temptations great and small: discouragement, pride, laziness, self-pity. We see darkly through a glass and our knowledge is small compared to God's infinite mind. But mostly you are free …
They begin with words, beautiful words, "small shapes in the glorious chaos of the world," as the poet Diane Ackerman calls them. "
~ from chapter 2
Whether you've been teaching at home all the time or suddenly going to school at home (virtual school or some other hybrid related to COVID precautions), this year you should add some poems for your teens.
Note: While this guide may seem accessible to younger middle school students, it is best for 8th grade students. See the "related reading" below for an option for middle school.
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Overall rating: 5/5
- Artistic / literary evaluation: 4.75 / 5
- Worldview evaluation: 5/5
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