Wax Poetic

Posted by Jarrod Jones on 4/5/2019 11:20:00 AM


Waxing Poetic

I’d heard the phrase many times but really never knew what it meant. In my mind, I thought it meant to have tremendous skill in using words or being able to write poetry with unique creativity. Actually, the phrase waxing poetic means being verbose, full of words. There can be a negative connotation associated with being full of words. It could sometimes refer to someone speaking so much nonsense that it smells like a pile of cow manure. It could mean someone just blabbers on and on and just wants to hear themselves talk.

However, I also believe that waxing poetic could mean just having something meaningful and powerful to say; just saying it using an exorbitant amount of words.

With April dedicated as National Poetry Month, we are diving right in with listening to, reading, and writing poetry. Poetry is not always young students’ favorite genre. Poetry can sometimes be difficult to understand as poets have a tendency to write what’s in their abstract hearts. It’s akin to a painter concocting a piece of work splattered with unidentified objects and indiscriminate colors and selling said painting for a zillion dollars. No one really knows what the heck is on the canvas, but we ooh and ahh it just because that’s what you’re supposed to do with art pieces that cost too much money.

Well, I tell students that what’s in their abstract hearts is priceless. Words that need to be spoken, written, sung, drawn, painted, acted out, instrumentalized...in whatever form that fits best, their emotions, their souls, their lives are masterpieces waiting to be shared with the rest of the world. And in ELA class, my job as a teacher is to help pull that out of them. Even introverts should have an opportunity to share their hearts because what’s in their hearts matter too.

A couple of things that make me cringe like nothing else is when students ask, “How many words or how long does it have to be?” or “Is this for a grade?” I try to hold my feelings inside when I hear these questions, however, I’ve been told that my facial expressions usually speak for me (I have to work on that). When students ask how long does it have to be, usually it’s because they want to make sure they can write as few words as possible, making it as short as it can be and still able to get a good grade on it. There are a few students who ask because they want to make sure they don’t write too much. Those are the students who want to wax poetic. They want to go above and beyond. They want to be able to squeeze every bit of their heart out into that writing piece and as an ELA teacher, that makes my heart smile. But ultimately, it’s not really about how long it is, the quantity, but instead, it’s about the quality. If you can say a lot in a few words, that can be more powerful than saying hardly anything at all with an abundance of words.

According to funwithwords.com, the world’s shortest poem is four words and five syllables. I don’t know if this claim is debatably true or not, however, whether a student is long-winded and loquacious or is a laconic person of few words, they all have something meaningful and powerful to say. And I hope as we go through this unit of poetry, they all find their voice and present those wonderful words in ways that express their true heart and feelings, because their feelings matter and are important to them, which make them important to all of us.