2006-09-13

My Magic Poe-tion


My students are largely disinterested in literature, even the honors students. I choose to begin with Edgar Allan Poe because I figured he's just creepy enough to hook them in and get them excited. It's about death! It's about betrayal! It's about morality! All right, the last one isn't so compelling to them, but I'm trying. Some of the kids find the eeriness fascinating and are engaging with Poe's material, but at least half are still drifting elsewhere, unconcerned.

As private conversations begin to overpower my lesson, frustrated, I let loose, "Poe was an alcoholic!" Heads turn toward me in interest. That's right, they want to know the dirt. So I explain the mystery surrounding his death featuring his bizarre collapse outside of a tavern. Was it murder? Alcoholism? Rabies? They want to know an answer; of course, I don't have one for them. Not wanting to lose the momentum, however, I blurt out that Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin when he was in his 20s. There are cries of "Gross!" and "Poe's a freak!" Now that we've established Poe as a questionable character, the class is interested in reading the disturbing things that he writes.

I do fear, however, how this will alter subsequent lessons. I wonder if I'll have to drag all major authors through the gutter. I can't substantiate these claims, but I've heard that Harper Lee once gouged a man's eye out with her bare hands. And enjoys putting gerbils up her ass.

1 comment:

bianca said...

Dickens was an asshole--have at him. The kids will love that, right?