by Thaddeus Rutkowski
Selected poems by Sappho, Ovid, Marie de France, and the British Romantics have been part of my teaching routine for the past few years. Less regularly, I have covered poems by Homer, Li Po, Dante, Shakespeare, Yates, Walcott and Angelou. I try to open a way into these poems for students who may not be familiar with the works.
One way to bring people into the discussion is to make the lectures “fun.” When discussing Blake’s “The Tyger,” I tell a story from my childhood. My father decided that, on Halloween, I would do more than hold out a bag for candy. I would earn a treat. He had me memorize “The Tyger,” and recite it at each place I stopped. Upon opening the door, the occupant would hear me piping, “Tyger, tyger, burning bright …”
After telling this story, I ask my students, “If you are a parent, or plan to become a parent, would you have your child recite a poem for a Halloween treat?”
Some say, “Yes, but not that poem.”
Others say, “Can you recite that poem for us now?”
This is how we start to talk.
About The Author
Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of six books, most recently Border Crossings, a poetry collection. He received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Barnes and Noble on Post Road in Scarsdale on June 6, at 7pm
Eastern New Mexico University on October 8
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center in Atlanta, at 2pm, November 3