I like this:

>I might've ended up switching off poetry
>altogether - no offence to him; it's all in the timing.

i finished high school about 2 years ago. poetry didn't even feature in the
Year 12 syllabus and was mentioned in passing from years 9-11. in year 8 i
recall having to memorise Kipling's 'If' - but this was done purely as a
self-esteem exercise, and it was fairly successful. most of my peers were
amazed that they managed to memorise it.

i recall someone mentioning a theory that some adolescent boys are attracted
to poetry when they start masturbating, and 'go off it' when they discover
sex. admittedly my first couple of poems involved girls, but i remember
reading through an anthology and, slowly but surely, encountering all these
amazing poems and poets. at that age Auden was incredibly exciting, as was
Dickinson, purely for the wordplay.

which brings me to what i really hated about high-school poetry teaching.
every poem we analysed seemed to be this cryptic mess that the teacher
eventually had to explain - resulting in the class saying things like 'so
THAT'S what it meant'. this ties in with the fact that we studied a lot of
Shakespeare - and nearly all of that required constant commentary from the