Despite the lockdown, Head of English, Mr Butler has continued with his quest to introduce poetry into the daily life of the school through video broadcasts on the English department’s blog.
After finding inspiration from a book called ‘A Poem for Every Day of the Year’, he decided to adapt his plan of bringing more poetry into the classroom and began daily online readings last week.
As an important part of the curriculum, Mr Butler explains why this form of expression is so much more than beautiful language: “Poetry enables us to teach across time and space.”
“In terms of the sheer breadth of world history and literary context, each poem, although small in word count, can open up a door to an abundance of worlds and views through snapshots of emotions, cultures and events.”
“As a teacher, I see my main duty as showing children the many different paths available to them and hopefully guiding them towards the right one. Poetry gives me a chance to show other people’s experiences and pathways to help them choose their own.”
Poetry more popular than ever
Popularity for poetry has recently soared, especially amongst young people, with two-thirds of poetry book sales coming from the under 34s, as well as a raft of well-known performance poets now appearing on mainstream TV.
It’s thought that the reason behind the surge is down to people turning to the simplicity of poetry to make sense of an increasingly complex world.
Mr Butler comments: “Many of my students love the way you can unpack so much from a small text and they often feel very passionate about some of the issues raised.”
“We also have several students who write their own poetry, with some preparing pieces for the prestigious Tower Poetry Competition that’s due to run when the current situation is over.”
On a personal level, Mr Butler particularly enjoys the work of World War l poet, Wilfred Owen, who incidentally he named his son after, and 19th Century American poet, Emily Dickinson.
He reveals: “They say in a few verses what many novelists fail to do in a whole book.”
“My favourite poem is Futility by Wilfred Owen, which is the perfect encapsulation of a Shropshire boy’s existential angst in the light of the unspeakable horrors of war.”
Next week, Mr Butler will read a new selection of poems, including Father’s Hands by Paul Cookson ahead of Father’s Day, and Refugees by Brian Bilston to mark World Refugee Day – see full list.
To listen to ‘Poem of the Day’, please visit the English department’s blog →