I was a high school and college English teacher for 24 years and littered the classroom with poetry as much as I could without causing epic upheavals and riots . . . though we did get close. Because I’ve loved and written poetry since I was young, I carried that love into the classroom, with mixed results, of course. I learned over time that being a stealth poetry teacher was the best mode of attack: Don’t let them know they are reading or writing poetry.
While it was hard to conceal the reading of poetry–poems are just too distinctive-looking–it was fairly easy to disguise the act of writing poetry. Many times, we would start with lists of phrases or ideas and eventually turn those lists into poems. Journaling, inside or outside, was always a good way to write your way into something poetic without knowing it. Eventually, the students wised up and knew when poetry was going to be the end result of an activity, but if the activity was fun or at least halfway interesting, they didn’t mind.
So we eventually made all manner of found poems and cakewalk poems (email me–I’ll explain it) and photography poems and . . . all kinds of wordplay activity that evolved into poetry. I am presenting a workshop on the Poetry Friendly Classroom at the Oklahoma Council of Teachers of English conference on April 3, in Oklahoma City. This PowerPoint The Poetry Friendly Classroom indicates my main points with some links. If you would like more detail, just email me.
Also at the conference will be Terrance Hayes, a wonderful poet. Come out to hear him.