I was very interested to read that this year’s Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to a poet. The ABC news reported last week that the recipient was 77-year-old LouiseGluck who is a professor of English at Yale University. As a drama teacher, I love the idea that a poet is at the forefront of literary recognition.
Since its inception in 1901, 36 poets have accepted this prestigious award. Louise Gluck was the very first American female poet to do so. She joins the ranks of such classic authors and poets as T.S. Eliot, William Yeats and Rudyard Kipling.
Poetry is not only a wonderful way to nurture literacy in children, it is also a highly effective tool for drama teachers to use to explore many of the elements ofdrama, such as timing, rhythm, contrast, symbol and mood.
Storytelling is an integral part of drama education. We teach children to tell stories using their bodies, their faces, their emotions and their voices. It is a way to explore aspects of life that are hard to communicate. Poetry is a beautiful and unique form of storytelling. The best poems are often those that closely reflect the poet’s own life and significant experiences. The ABC news article reported that Louise Gluck was praised for her ability to clearly strive for clarity in relation to her childhood and family relationships.
It is hard to deny that listening to poetry being read or performed aloud is the most fulfilling way to experience it. I challenge you to read some of the following words of one of Louise Gluck’s poems – “The Silver Lily” – aloud. First, read it in your head, and then enjoy reading aloud her simple language that includes rich symbolism and beautiful imagery.
In spring, when the moon rose, it meant
time was endless. Snowdrops
opened and closed, the clustered
seeds of the maples fell in pale drifts.
White over white, the moon rose over the birch tree.
And in the crook, where the tree divides,
leaves of the first daffodils, in moonlight
The more we read beautiful words of poetry, the more we connect with the poet and understand the underlying symbols that they represent. Poetry performance in drama classes is a beautiful way to develop sensitivity in students, to help them interpret different styles of language, and to give them a love and appreciation for quality literature.
You can enjoy many more of Louise Gluck’s poems here.
Caption: Louise Gluck receives the Nobel Prize for literature from Barak Obama (Source: abc.net.au)