Sunday, August 30, 2009

Thomas Lux and the Decatur Book Festival

This article on the Decatur Book Festival (Sept 4-6) includes some great comments from poet Thomas Lux - worth reading the whole piece - but here's a couple clips:

Lux thoroughly appreciates poems with humor. “Why shouldn’t poetry be funny? Life is funny. I don’t like the kind of turd-in-a-punchbowl professor who says ‘Poetry can never be funny! It has to be serious!'"

...Lux's classrooms take an approach that offers an easier gateway for students and adult readers alike. “I’ve always done something Billy Collins described as ‘teaching backwards.’ You start by having [the students] read the very contemporary poems, the stuff in the language of today, even hip-hop lyrics, then go backward to the classics. For several generations, our students’ introduction to poetry was through great poets, essential poets, who nevertheless didn’t speak in the language that we speak today.”


Suzanah said...

Taken out of context, it appears Lux is saying that Billy Collins doesn't like the way Lux teaches. Quite the contrary. BC and Lux both think that starting with the contemporary stuff is the RIGHT way to teach poetry. BC says that teachers who start with poetry that today's students can't understand or connect with ruins the students' attitudes toward poetry.

Btw, BC and Lux are not just excellent teachers-- they're both amazing poets.

Denise said...

Oh, no, I didn't read it that way at all - so I hope no one else takes it "out of context" like that. It seems more a mutual admiration for their teaching, and what sounds like a solid pedagogy.