Hate English classes, love English classes? Either way you’ll want to check out this site:.. http://www.poets.org
Shall I compare thee to an overdue English assignment; Thou art more frightening and annoying… Excuse me, I digress slightly. I have taken exactly one university level English course. Being a life-long reader I thought I might actually enjoy it. Ok, you can quit laughing now. The only good thing about that class was guessing which imagery the professor would link to sex. As it turned out, that was everything (that man could find something dirty in a Dr. Suess book, well in Green Eggs and Ham I think we all can). Upon happening onto this website, the memories of dissecting crappy and pretentious poetry began to haunt me. Until recently I haven’t been able to fully appreciate a good poem.
Poets.org is brought to us by The Academy of American Poets. Basically this site is everything poetry (of the American variety anyway). For the sake of simplicity (Or is it?-insert evil laugh here.), I’ll split up the main points of the site in terms of their appeal to different audiences.
If you are a student, here are some sections you may find useful:
“¢ “Find A Poet”- Just what it says, find a poet. Pictures, biographies and other information on over 450 poets. Concise and interesting biographies, plus links to other sources about a particular poet.
“¢ “Find a Poem”- I’m beginning to see a pattern here. More than twelve hundred poems. Go ahead and search them.
“¢ “Discussion Forums”- Didn’t check them out, sorry. But the forum is there if you wish to use it.
If you are a teacher (or want to be one) check out this section (my sister phoned me up the other day in a panic over a lesson plan for her teaching internship. After much discussion and research on this site, she is teaching one lucky class Gwendolyn Brooks’, “We Real Cool”.):
“¢ “Online Poetry Classroom(OPC)”- Most of this information is geared toward the high school level. But given the love affair high school teachers and university professors both have with poems like “My Last Duchess” and “Richard Cory” (took them both in Grade 11 and university and wish never to read them again), this section is good to check out for all levels. Some things included are: “OPC Workshops”, “National Poetry Map” ( an interactive map where you click on a state and find out all the poets, writing organizations etc. for that place), “Teacher Resource Center”, and “Curriculum Units and Lesson Plans”. Great poetry resources for educators and students.
If you are a really bored person with lots and lots of money you may be interested in these sections:
“¢ “Academy Gift Shop”-Couldn’t find a Maya Angelou limited edition ceramic plate (come on Bradford Exchange!), but stuff like books and National Poetry Month t-shirts are all for sale..
“¢ “Become a Member”- Give them money and get books, magazines and a poster.
Poets.org was actually a lot of fun. It was interesting to read the biographies of all the people who wrote such dull poetry (hell hath no fury like a bored university student scorned!). Ok, most of the poems were pretty good and there are a ton of contemporary poets and poems. So even if you aren’t taking an English class there is still a lot to gain from http://www.poets.org.
Neat Stuff: All the poet biographies and poetry searches are great. Tons of links and resources on individual poets.
Not So Neat Stuff: Not a lot of Canadian or international poets here. Well, what did you expect from a website brought to you by the Academy of American Poets?
Rating ****/5: I really like this site. Lots of content and well laid out. Who would have ever thought poetry would be interesting? For an entertaining evening at home, go through the poems and find as many swear words and “bathroom” words as you can. Play it as a drinking game, use it as an example of literary realism but take the activity for what it is: an excuse to act ten-years-old again. If you want more Canadian content try http://www.poets.ca, it’s not near as comprehensive but there’s a maple leaf on the page.
Planning a road trip? You cannot miss http://www.roadsideattractions.ca
This website is just what it says, a list of various roadside attractions in Canada. These are not of the heritage monument variety though, but more of the big, bold, “world’s largest” variety. Some may find them obscene and a waste of money, but this site celebrates them.
You can search the various roadside attractions by province, alphabet, and by type. What types of roadside attractions are out there, you ask? Animals, transportation, sports, people, and of course crustaceans. Yes folks, the roadside attractions of Canada much resemble an episode of Sponge Bob, Square Pants (actually I do mean that as a compliment).
In Alberta, you can see “Pinto MacBean” in Bow Island and the “Vulcan Tourist and Trek Station” in, of course, Vulcan. Travel to Ontario to see “Husky the Musky” in Kenora, “Ms. Claybelt the Cow” in the Township of Dymond, and all the fish and lumberjack statues you can handle. My favorite by far is the giant fiddle in Cavendish, PEI. Just a note to the people of South Dildo, Newfoundland: Having a giant whale head statue does not detract from the name of your town.
I’ve always wanted to plan a roadtrip, but didn’t know where to start. Now I’ve decided the journey will begin at the world’s largest bathtub in Nanaimo, BC.
This website honors the giant deer statues, grasshopper painted pump jacks, and cowboy statues that grace our noble country. Maybe it’s time we did too.
Neat Stuff: For every attraction, there is a picture that goes with it. For all the potato statues in Canada, it was nice to know that each of them have their own personality.
Not So Neat Stuff: It would have been nice to have a description of the roadside attractions, in particular why they have been chosen to represent a town or area. But I have to admit that some, like the giant Labatt Blue beer can in Edmonton, need no explanation.
Rating: *****/5: I really loved this site. It’s easy to navigate and entertaining. Please go to http://www.roadsideattractions.ca when you plan your next trip, to get a laugh, or if you want to embarrass your friends from Macklin, Saskatchewan (bunnock anyone?).