Guest Blog: The Importance of Teaching Modern Poetry

Interesting Literature

In this guest blog post, Neil Bowen, Head of English at Wells Cathedral School in the UK, ponders the role of modern poetry in education

During my degree course, 25 years ago, the gamut of English Literature ran all the way back to Anglo-Saxon texts, such as Beowulf, and all the way up to about 1950. Literature, it appeared, stopped someplace shortly after WWII. About the most modern poets we studied were T. S. Eliot, W. H. Auden and perhaps a little Larkin.

During my teaching career many A-level exam specifications have featured post 1950 literary texts, especially modern novels and to a lesser extent plays. Occasionally one of the big hitters from the world of poetry sneaks on to a specification, a Heaney, or a Hughes or perhaps some Plath. But it is only recently, as far as I am aware, that exam boards have started to include…

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