Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School

Learning by Heart: Contemporary American Poetry about School

by Maggie Anderson
     
 

Learning by Heart brings together a unique and diverse collection of poems about the experience of school as seen through the eyes of America's best contemporary poets. These poets capture the educational process not only in the classroom but as it takes place in libraries and hallways, on playing fields and at dances. Alternately joyous and defiant, they

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Overview

Learning by Heart brings together a unique and diverse collection of poems about the experience of school as seen through the eyes of America's best contemporary poets. These poets capture the educational process not only in the classroom but as it takes place in libraries and hallways, on playing fields and at dances. Alternately joyous and defiant, they demonstrate how it is that young people come to find their place in the world.

Most of the poems in this anthology were written between 1970 and 1995, a period that encompasses both the halcyon years of poets-in-the-schools programs and the primary and secondary school years of many of the poets included. Their poems define school in that most contemporary sense — “with a multitude of voices”—reflecting perspectives from African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, and Native American as well as Anglo American backgrounds, from both public and private schools in rural and urban environments.

Learning by Heart offers a profound and timely statement about schools and learning as well as the role of art in education. Finally, these poems validate that most important lesson: even the most common of experiences is worthy of creative expression.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Revisiting school life is a common denominator for readers of all ages; reading poetry about these shared experiences makes the work excruciatingly meaningful. The editors of this collection of poetry about school examined over 700 contemporary American poems, selecting 135 from 100 poets. The editors sought poems that reflected personal past experiences with elementary and high school settings. Some of the poets included are widely known authors such as Paul Janeczko, Robert Bly, Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Gary Snyder, and Mel Glenn. Others are new or never been published. Many have worked as poetsintheschools. Poems are grouped into seven sections. Within each section topics run the gamut from bullies to sex to Catholic schools. The poems describe teachers who were nuns, fools, heroes, beloved, beastly, and amazing, and cover adolescent concerns such as friendship, fear, hope, death, love, success, and failure. A list of poets, along with information about each writer, appears at the end of the book. The range of poetry in this collection is very good and some of the poems are spectacular. Readers will be inspired to dwell on their own school experiences and capture them forever in verse. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 1999, University of Iowa Press, Ages 13 to 18, 228p, $29.95, $14.95 Trade pb. Reviewer: Bette Ammon
From the Publisher

“The most thoughtful—and scholastic—anthology of the season. ”— Publishers Weekly

“I would wager that you have forgotten 90% of the academic lessons you learned in school. I would also wager that you remember 100% of the lessons you learned about yourself—from your teachers and your classmates. And I am certain that whether you were teacher's pet or the pariah of the playground, you will find yourself in Learning by Heart, walking those familiar hallways, hiding in those familiar corners, wishing on stars and stepping over cracks in the sidewalk in front of your own school.”—LouAnne Johnson, author of Dangerous Minds

“I have spent many years among schoolchildren, but I have never written directly about it. I don't know if I'm eventually going to write about Mr. Baradone, my Hebrew teacher, or Miss Pickard, my seventh-grade teacher whom I fell madly in love with. In the meantime I will read this book with joy, savoring every wild dream, fear, confession, disappointment, nostalgia, embarrassment, and horror. A lovely book.”—Gerald Stern

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780877456629
Publisher:
University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
03/01/1999
Pages:
246
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 9.27(h) x 0.80(d)

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