Poem Sampler

Poems about Crushes, Couples, and Heartbreak

Love lessons from High School students

by Brian Staveley

“This one definitely goes in the ‘Poems to Read Before, During and After’ category!” At 8:30 a.m. on a Wednesday my eleventh grade poetry class was busy sorting through the over 1,700 poems about Love from the Poetry Foundation website. The editors had asked us to categorize to help other readers find poems they might otherwise miss. I wasn't aware that the class had come up with such a category and started to wonder what, practically, such a category might entail (and whether it might have implications for my job security).

Another conversation drew my ear. Nate was trying to arbitrate between Marina and Christian about whether Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn” belonged in the “crush” category. Marina’s main argument in favor involved quoting again and again what is perhaps my least favorite line in the entire English canon: “More happy love. More happy, happy love.”

Somehow, out of this pandemonium, the lists evolved. My ten students read every single one of poems and, after much banter and self-doubt, sorted them into categories you see below. I had to exert a hand in the naming of a few of these categories, vetoing such suggestions as “AARP Poems,” but the work and the perspectives are theirs.

Pickup Poems
by Peter Randall

It's Complicated
by Leslie Ahlstrand

Statistical Anomalies: Happy Relationships
by James Clark

Poems for Long-term Relationships
by Nathaniel Herrmann

Poems for Before, During, and After
by Christian Mott

Unrequited Love Poems 
by Chris Richards

Broken Up: Poems to Read After You've Been Dumped
by Leslie Ahlstrand

Originally Published: February 13, 2007



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Brian Staveley teaches English and History at a high school in Cambridge, Mass. He spends his summers rock climbing, exploring, and trying to stay out of trouble.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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