Michelle Grogan is the Reading Specialist/ELA Coordinator at The Orchard School.
“A poem begins with a lump in the throat.” – Robert Frost
Poetry and Emotional Intelligence – there are no two better combinations! Just the words Emotional Intelligence are so full of imagery. Emotions are feelings of sadness, happiness, anger, excitement, fear, anxiety, just to name a few. Being intelligent about them, aware and knowledgeable of what we are feeling and why is a huge accomplishment for anyone. Even more so for the students we are charged with taking care of, both emotionally and academically.
The Orchard School is committed to managing individual emotions in a positive manner (not exactly an easy feat in anyone’s imagination but an important one to understand and master) and to treating everyone in the community with respect and dignity. This month happens to be Poetry Month, a time when we focus on teaching and celebrating the art of poetry writing with our students (again, not exactly an easy feat, but one that is just as important as all the other writing genres they will learn over the years). But why would poetry writing and emotional intelligence be such a great pair?
When I think about poetry (and I am not afraid to admit that it is not my own personal “go to” for enjoyable reading or written expression), it immediately brings feelings and emotions to mind. I am a story writer. I thrive on creating characters and situations and worlds outside of my own personal comfort zone (I don’t think I would act or say some of what I have my characters do and say in my books), but there are so many people out there who thrive on the emotional release that a poem offers. And I think that in itself is why teaching poetry writing to our students –who struggle so much with understanding, managing and expressing their emotions in a healthy way –is so important.
As a teacher I know the challenge of getting our students to see the connections between emotions and poetry. We tend to get caught up in the mechanics and structure of the writing rather than the depth of feeling of the words. But as someone who has worked with emotionally and behaviorally disabled children for the last decade, I can see beyond the structure and mechanics to the beauty the words carry and the beauty our students create with even their simplest attempts at writing a poem. When a student writes a couplet about Spring, and I can feel the happiness and light shining through the words he/she chose – that right there is . . . indescribable.
“All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” – William Wordsworth
“It is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake.” – George Gordon Noel Byron