Insights from teaching verse

Ajita Paladugu

Poetry: “The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquillity.”

Perhaps no other definition of poetry has so beautifully and precisely captured the essence of the creative process than this one by Wordsworth.

letter The beauty of teaching poetry lies in the plethora of possibilities that the genre offers readers for connecting with the self and making sense of the world around through contemplation. Poetry is an excellent medium that not only allows us to appreciate a variety of thoughts and experiences but also offers us an opportunity to search within the deep recesses of our consciousness for similar experiences that we might have had or at least aspire to have.

Teaching poetry to 15-16 year olds can be an invigorating experience for the teacher and an insightful one for the taught. At this age students come in with a relatively better understanding of themselves and the world around them. So studying poetry often acts as a catalyst for rich personal experiences and as a springboard for ruminating the bigger questions of life.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching poetry. There can be no strict demarcation between different categories of poems and clearly delineated pedagogical techniques in “teaching” them. However, a broad categorization and methods of treatment does help to understand the purpose of studying a particular piece of poetry and decide the mode of engagement.

The following approaches to teaching poetry to students of senior school serve well to fulfil the purpose of including poetry in the curriculum.

The author teaches English to students of senior school at Delhi Public School, Vijayawada. She can be reached at

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