On Year 3: October’s Poems

What an odd month!  It started out as Octoberish as they come, but ended with a hurricane that brought the temperatures up into the unseasonable 60’s–along with enough rain to flood the cellar, and the C wing in our school building.  Here it is, Halloween, and I am surrounded by high-school-aged ghouls…and in addition to finding poems for them about ghosts and hauntings, I dug out a Dickinson which gave them high winds.

FYI–near the end of the month I adventured to Huntsville, Ontario to see Oysterband…so that week I hyped poems about music.  It worked for me, anyway.

I was once again helped in my selections this month by the inimitable Jenny Doughty–and I had the great honor, at last, to read a piece by her (about William Blake, a personal fascination for both of us).  For the first time in three years, the principal was present for the reading of one poem–so the cat’s out of the bag:  he knows.  This room is where we spread the word.  The poems are out there.  The kids and I are launching a new one into the air here at school every day.

Behold the beautiful genre!

October 1, Monday: “October,” by Patrick Kavanagh (suggested by the ever-awesome Jenny Doughty)

October 2, Tuesday: “At the Town Dump,” by Jane Kenyon

October 3, Wednesday: “October Dawn,” by Ted Hughes (another great Jenny Doughty suggestion)

October 4, Thursday: “The Printer,” by Jenny Doughty

October 5, Friday:  teacher workshop–no class.

Jenny Doughty

October 8, Monday:  Columbus Day–no school.

October 9, Tuesday: “Apple Trees” by Ellen Bryant Voigt

October 10, Wednesday: “Psalm” by Marilyn Nelson

October 11, Thursday: “Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue…” by Ramon Montaigne

October 12, Friday: “I never hear the word ‘Escape‘” by Emily Dickinson

October 15, Monday: “Fog,” by Carl Sandburg

October 16, Tuesday: “An Autumn Rain-Scene” by Thomas Hardy

October 17, Wednesday: no classes due to PSAT testing.  Grr.

October 18, Thursday: “Autumn Sky” by Charles Simic

October 19, Friday: “Exploration” by Kaytlon Smith

October 22, Monday: “Party” by  Joe Bolton

October 23, Tuesday: “Water Music” by Robert Creeley

October 24,Wednesday: “Music, When Soft Voices Die” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Rae Armantrout

October 25, Thursday: “The Guitar” by Federico Garcia Lorca

October 26, Friday: “Pulse” by Lawrence Kessenich

October 29, Monday: “There came a wind like a bugle” by Emily Dickinson

October 30, Tuesday: “Day in Autumn” by Rainer Maria Rilke

October 31, Wednesday: “Djinn” by Rae Armantrout

Anyone have any awesome suggestions for November?  It’s the shortest month here, in terms of class days.  I’d love to start every November day with a bang, as it were.

1 Comment

  1. Jenny Doughty

    I am honoured to have my poem read to your class! Thank you! Glad you liked the Ted Hughes suggestion.

    For a November poem, how about the suitably bleak “November” by Simon Armitage? Not all that easy to find the text online though it was set for GCSE in the UK last year I think. Here it is – copy and delete if necessary!


    We walk to the ward from the badly parked car
    with your grandma taking four short steps to our two.
    We have brought her here to die and we know it.

    You check her towel. soap and family trinkets,
    pare her nails, parcel her in the rough blankets
    and she sinks down into her incontinence.

    It is time John. In their pasty bloodless smiles,
    in their slack breasts, their stunned brains and their baldness
    and in us John: we are almost these monsters.

    You’re shattered. You give me the keys and I drive
    through the twilight zone, past the famous station
    to your house, to numb ourselves with alcohol.

    Inside, we feel the terror of the dusk begin.
    Outside we watch the evening, failing again,
    and we let it happen. We can say nothing.

    Sometimes the sun spangles and we feel alive.
    One thing we have to get, John, out of this life.


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