Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: Humanizing the Future through Poetry

Janet Wondra.

In high-crime Richmond, California, I was teaching in a high school through Poets in the Schools when a teacher pointed out a student being expelled for stealing a motorcycle. “And we give them poetry,” she lamented. “What better thing to give them?!” I replied. What better way to explore and express troubling emotions; what better way to ponder the right course of action and its effects on others? Poetry is a way of thinking, of experiencing the world more consciously, of sorting out knotty problems, yet one which is rarely used in realms outside the humanities. Taking Poets in the Schools as a model, this workshop argues for integrating poetry into the daily practice of business, science, technology, and government and recognizing poetry as a humanizing force, one which causes us to reflect on ourselves, the natural world around us, and the ethical implications of our actions, both personal and professional. Poetry, whether one reads it or writes it, offers the individual, no matter what his or her profession, access to deep, complex emotions and provides release and understanding. Through this process, one can seek new routes to humane decision making, at home and in the workplace. The presentation will include brief instruction in Poets in the Schools methodology, which allows even the most hesitant or resistant participant to read and understand a model poem, then produce an original piece of literature.


Janet Wondra  (United States)
Assistant Professor in English and Film Studies
School of Liberal Studies
Roosevelt University

Janet Wondra's essays have appeared in 'Wide Angle', 'The Faulkner Journal', and 'ADE Bulletin'. Her poetry has appeared in 'Southern Review', Denver Quarterly', and 'Witness' and is collected in three volumes, 'Emerging Island Cultures', 'The Wandering Mother', and 'Long Division'. She heads Creative Writing and Film Studies at Roosevelt University, Chicago.

  • Poetry
  • Humanities
  • Business
  • Science
  • Technology
  • Government
  • Methodology
  • Ethics
  • Decision making

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)