The Three That Speak to Us: “The Shoe,” “Untitled,” “Men”

Over the course of the first semester, Charlie Christensen and I studied the 2008 edition of Best American Poetry. For each of the seventy-five poems we gave “one sentence” evaluations and gave each one a score of 1-7. After reviewing and comparing our evaluations, we noticed that we gave a lot of poems the same score. We then chose our top seven poems which we felt should be taught to high school students across the country. Finally, our selections were narrowed down to the top three that we felt spoke to us. The three poems that we selected were: Joshua Beckman’s “Untitled,” Kathryn Starbuck’s “The Shoe,”and Lydia Davis’ “Men.” Coincidentally, these three stood out to us because they all have something to do with relationships.

“The Shoe” by Kathryn Starbuck is a great poem about a widow who is moving on with her life after the sudden death of her husband. Charlie and I agreed that we both enjoyed the simplicity of this poem. Unlike most of the cryptic poems that we analyzed, the message behind “The Shoe” was clear. One of the reasons why this poem stood out amongst the others was the relationship between the community and Starbuck after the passing of her husband, George. She explained how the neighborhood supported and helped her adjust to the next stage of her life. We thought that this should be read in high schools because loss is an inevitable stage in everyone’s life. At some point, everyone will be put in a position to deal with the loss of a loved one and it is always comforting to know the ways in which the community is there for support.

Our second favorite poem was “Untitled” by Joshua Beckman. This poem appealed to us because it wasn’t your traditional poem. In just 14 lines there was around 24 periods. Beckman’s very unique style added an element to that poem that I had never experienced. While reading it, the poem went by so quickly yet felt like it was never going to end. This was intriguing to us because usually stylistic poems like these don’t appeal to high school students. However, it was captivating enough to make it into our top three.

Finally, we selected “Men” by Lydia Davis. Originally, this poem drew me in because of its format. The poem takes on a more contemporary vibe and is written in paragraph form rather than verse. This allowed the poem to be read quickly while still maintaining a serious composition. This poem was also intriguing to us because it has a view of men and the world from a woman’s perspective. This really stood out because we had never encountered anything like it before. Personally, I never thought that women viewed us as monsters that hide in the hills.

We chose these three poems as ones that we think should be taught to high school students because they all deal with relationships. The latter two were also unique, stylistic poems that we found to be thought-provoking.

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