My students start to prepare readings of selected Blake poems

The second phase of the William Blake project began today. Students responded with some trepidation about performing the poems in a musical fashion, but some were quite keen to have a go at home.

Many students were appreciative that they had time to study the poems in this way; they weren’t, on the whole, familiar with performing poems. However, the act of getting them to perform the poems did make them look again at the title of the poems, and notice that they are “songs”. One students asked an interesting question: “Is a poem a song? Or vice versa?” We had a discussion about the distinctions between poems and songs.

Some students are musical but felt a bit intimidated about the thought of playing/singing/performing the poems, but said they would go away and have a go for homework. We didn’t listen to any performed versions in this lesson.

Most students were appreciative of the fact that this approach is more in the spirit of William Blake — who certainly wouldn’t have liked people to over-analyse his poems before they really “felt” their impact.

I feel that this is a good approach because it enjoys an “aesthetic” response to the poems as opposed to an analytical, cognitive response; this is what art is about, “aesthetic appreciation”.

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