Archive for June 2011
I was discussing the poem, “Lost Generation” with my friend Todd Vogts, an educator from Kansas.
I was first introduced to this poem at the Buck Institute that I attended for my work with #IACoPi .
Todd took the discussion we had and blogged about it, so I thought I too would blog about my reflection on the poem:
When I first heard this poem I thought it was just another frightful account of the current generation and all the problems they face in the future. From the overworked, divorced adult they are destined to become, to being labeled as a generation that is “apathetic and lethargic”(line 29), the future is less than bright. The message was clear and straightforward, painting familiar images using familiar words. This all culminated at a logical, if not a bit cliché, last line, “And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it”(line 32). “Hmmm, well this is good,” I thought but nothing extraordinary, until the reading acted upon the command of the bold faced type and started reciting the lines backwards.
When read in reverse, the poem offers a rebuttal to the negative views society places on the current generation. The speaker offers images of hope where there was once despair. In fact the first line reads, “There is hope.”(line 1). And everything that turned the reader’s stomach into knots the first read through now offers a fist in its place. This generation is one of fighters, out to prove the world wrong. To change the perception of bleakness to light!
But beyond the amazing reversal of the message, the form of the poem was unexpected. The structure of this poem was equally as surprising. I was engaged and inspired. I had never seen something like this and thought of the difficulty it must demand to write this type of poem well. I also like the audio component and would use it after the students read once to themselves, seeing if any picked up on what to do at the poem’s end. This would be a great way to introduce poetry and I am going to use it next year.
Out of curiosity I learned that this poem was originally created for a contest sponsored by the AARP. Young people between the ages of 18-30 had to create a video describing how their lives would be at age 50. Johnathan Reed created this video which placed second in the contest in 2007. According to Wikipedia, this poem was inspired by the political advertisement about Argentina entitled “Truth” http://youtu.be/lFz5jbUfJbk . I think this would be not only a good starting point for a poetry unit, but also a challenging and engaging model for the students to emulate.