Example poetry

Aversion to poetry? it is not a surprise

I wonder what misguided curriculum consultant decided it was “educationally criminal” to get kids to memorize poems and recite them in class (“Rhymes and misdemeanours,” July 17)? I go back further than Gabrielle Carey. Rockdale Elementary School in the 1950s was old fashioned that way, but it’s amazing how many poetry snippets I remember. Many Australians still search for lines like “I love a sunburnt country”. All language is poorer if we don’t discover the underlying rhythms and the sheer pleasure of having words. Margaret Johnston, Paddington

While author Gabrielle Carey rightly voices her concerns that HSC students hate poetry, she shouldn’t blame the teachers or school administration for that. The underlying cause lies in what is currently presented as “poetry” to schoolchildren.

Carey reflects on the importance of rhyming poems in grade school to her own literary career, and therein lies the long-term problem: it’s not written. Aspiring poets, young and old, are not encouraged to write rhyming (or “traditional”) poetry these days. Our national poetry competitions clearly favor “free verse” over everything else. Those who write poems with rhyme never look when it comes to the big prize money.

Indeed, it often takes a doctorate in obscurity to understand what the winning poet is about. And the message of the poem? Forget! No wonder school children, whose lives began with rhymes, are discouraged when struck by verses that make no sense to them and are irrelevant to life as they know it.

It’s time to both rhymes and the free verse is encouraged by the elitists and the judges of the competition presented as the leaders of the poetic genre. Barry Collier, Kareela

Overwhelmed by the mess

As a dog owner and taxpayer, I support any plan to open beaches to loose dogs for limited periods; 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. is reasonable (“Dog Plans on Beaches Unleash Ruckus,” July 21). I am very disappointed with reports of hostile opposition from the councils because “the plan endangers bathers and the environment of irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets.” I agree that there are irresponsible dog owners who don’t clean up after their dogs, but my experience is that they are a tiny minority, about the same if not smaller than other bathers who don’t clean up not after themselves. Each morning, coastal councils must operate large sand-screening machines to pick up syringes, broken glass and other sand debris, and employ garbo crews to pick up other rubbish left behind by people, not dogs. Why is this acceptable, but not some dog owners? Brian Katzen, Coogee

Public knowledge

One of the very great advantages of the selective public school is rarely mentioned (“Schools to refound selective placements”, July 21). This is the breakdown of societal snobbery based on parental wealth. The children are selected on the sole basis of their academic abilities and develops a true meritocracy that benefits everyone.

For example, in the immediate post-war period of the 1950s, the selective high school I attended (as a mediocre personal sample) included many relatively poor refugee children who were much smarter than me and whose lives has been transformed. These children would never have developed for the benefit of society, as they did, without the selective public school system. Let’s not kid ourselves that a private system based on parental wealth and questionable government largesse would or could ever do that.


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