ERIC Number: ED219765
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Apr-30
Reference Count: 0
"The Joy of Mere Words": Poetry and Composition.
As a man who took great delight in "the joy of mere words," George Orwell would understandably be appalled by the growing insensitivity to language in today's world. Poetry in composition classes can keep students aware of the music of the English language. There is no guarantee that students will respond to poetry with the same enthusiasm that Orwell showed for it, nor that they will magically produce beautifully written essays like Orwell, but if reading poetry can lead students to listen more attentively to the sound of their own sentences, then a poetry section will have been worth the effort. One composition class covers 25 to 30 poems in 3 or 4 weeks, and once a week, students write a short essay in response to a poem, eventually trying their own poetry. Discussions focus on diction and arrangement of phrases and classes. An exercise in translating poetry into poor prose gives students a much better understanding of what separates good writing from bad. Unfortunately, composition researchers are discouraging this kind of method in favor of the "writing process" paradigm, but teachers and researchers must guard against the temptation to make composition instruction a pseudoscientific practice that overlooks the importance of writing as an art. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Orwell (George)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Mid-America Conference on Composition (6th, Owensboro, KY, April 30, 1982).