At the secondary level, Valentine’s Day is often overlooked. There’s no exchanging of Valentines and there’s no heart-shaped red and pink classroom decor. With emotions and hormones running high through high school hallways, love can be a touchy subject. What I like to do is share a poem that is the opposite of what my students might expect–“This Year’s Valentine” by Philip Appleman. It’s a poem that was written in 2003 as part of a resistance movement (Poets Against the War) against the buildup of military forces prior to the invasion of Iraq, so it contains a plethora of images that students would never expect to find in a valentine, and with no explicit mention of government, politics, or Iraq, students can focus on imagery, alliteration, and the obvious turn in three of the four stanzas and how it affects the tone of the poem. There are a handful of touching lines, but they are not sappy, and they don’t dominate the poem. Instead, they provide a refreshing counterpoint to the poem’s more intense images and ideas.
If you’d like some other ideas–a Ted Talk, some Shakespeare, some mythology, a short story, a NY Times article, and some more poetry–check out this blog post from my friend Kim at ocbeachteacher.com. You’ll find lots of great material here!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Will you be mine?