One of the poetry news stories of 2007 was the December break-in and vandalism of the Robert Frost farm in Ripton, Vt. A large group of young people broke into the New England home, vandalized it, and held a keg party, doing over $10,000.00 damage to the historic house and grounds. There was a flurry of articles on the story, then it seems to have died down.
Today's USA Today reports that the vandalizing students have been caught, and part of their punishment, they are being required to take a course on Robert Frost. According to the prosecutor, the idea is to that if these teens had a clear understanding of who Frost was and his place in history and our society, they would have a different kind of respect for people's property.
What a shame that learning about one of America's great poets is considered punishment. But at the same time, it seems a good thing to give these teens a taste of poetry, and some of the best at that. If one or two come out touched by it, even the vandalism will have had meaning.
And it might have some effect. I am constantly surprised at how teens respond to poetry, and poets. I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that many teens have emotions running around in their heads and hearts that they can't get out in a good way, and most recognize poetry as a legit way to get it out. I'd love to read a follow up story on the impact, if any, that this "punishment" has on the teens.
Want to know more? There is a good article on Yahoo about it that shows some of the youth's recations, and you can read it here.