I just spent the past five minutes typing up a poem to show to my Creative Writing class. It’s a bad poem; I’m using it as fodder for a discussion on editing and grading. High schoolers are a little put off by the evaluation of their creative work, and understandably so. It’s very personal: a lot of them are genuinely trying to get their hormonally-imbalanced emotions down on paper. So we need to practice critiquing poetry in a humane way. And we also need to talk about grading creative writing. Many of them have this idea that you can’t label poetry as good or bad. So, I wrote the following poem, which I hope they’ll recognize as bad.
I dreamt last night
Of a woman named September.
She arrived in a bikini and stood with folded arms.
When I said hi,
she didn’t reply
but stared down at the ground.
The wind and rain outside awoke me,
and I rose to close the window.
But I paused at the sill,
took a breath of the cool, earthy air;
smelled the wet grass, thirsty from the past month’s heat,
and went back to sleep.
Incidentally, it’s a lot of fun writing bad poetry. It’s not quite as rewarding as writing something that’s good — the pleased feeling only lasts for a couple minutes — but it’s a blast. And actually, the above poem is not my best work — meaning it’s not the worst I’ve written.