Pixel Tracker

Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 8:57 pm | A Few Clouds 51º

 
 
 
 

Bill Cirone

Bill Cirone: A Poet in Your Pocket

The written exchange between John Adams and his wife, Abigail, are true treasures of American history, but the native New Englander, away from home for months at a time in Philadelphia and Washington trying to preserve a young republic for future generations, also wrote at length to his oldest son, John Quincy, who himself would become president several decades after his father left office.

One of my favorite passages from that exchange is this bit of advice the father gave the son — it is a simple but spot-on observation about the importance of education — “The end of study is to make you a good and useful citizen.”

Adams also recognized the importance of cultivating thoughtful citizens through the study of arts and letters.

“Read somewhat of the English poets every day,” the elder Adams reminded his son in another letter. “You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket.”

The reminder is especially fitting today, as teachers and students around Santa Barbara County and the country observe National Poetry Month in April.

In modern society, electronic media and digital tools make access to the world’s greatest poetry easier than ever before. These tools allow both school children and adults the ability to discover a poem with a click of a button.

There are also great digital resources that provide teachers and parents innovative things to do with and about poetry. The website poets.org recently uploaded an article entitled “30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month.”

Included in this list are some obvious suggestions, like memorizing a poem or reading a poem a day for the entire month. Some suggestions encourage a degree of adventurousness, like reading a poem at an open mic night.

I like this one, which fuses an appreciation of poetry with an element of civic mindedness: “Ask your governor or mayor for a proclamation in support of National Poetry Month.”

There are also great ideas for teachers, too.

Teach This Poem” features one poem a week from an online poetry collection, which is “accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.”

Alberto Ríos’s beautiful poem “When Giving Is All I Have” imparts powerful lessons in every stanza: “You gave me what you did not have, and I gave you what I had to give,” the poet sings in the moving conclusion. “Together, we made something greater from the difference.”

Lessons in collaboration, cooperation and community are both timely and timeless, for parents, teachers and students alike.

As we celebrate National Poetry Month, let us remember that “Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” as British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley famously claimed in the early 19th century.

While poets might not enjoy the kind of fame that movie stars, politicians and sports figures do, their impact on society cannot be measured. 

Let us also remember that for many children, poetry has helped them grow emotionally, intellectually and creatively.

Whether it is a “poet in your pocket,” an instrument in your hand or a canvas on an easel, it is never too early to start a lifelong love of reading and creating.

— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools. The opinions expressed are his own.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.