by Brett Vogelsinger
If you live in a region that gets the occasional snow day, you know how exciting they can be for students and teachers alike. Snow days offer an unexpected period of found time, the opportunity to slow down, push back a deadline, and catch your breath.
Billy Collins' poem "Snow Day" captures how it feels to be a "willing prisoner" to the snow. I love to share this poem with my students when we return from a snow day. After our first reading, I ask students to keep an eye on something during our second read.
Collins mentions "a revolution of snow" in his poem. Where do we see the language of revolution threaded through this poem? How does he subtly build on this idea elsewhere with his imagery and diction? Like tracking animal footprints into the woods, students enjoy the challenge of following the words that suggest revolution: white flag, government buildings smothered, anarchic cause, a riot afoot, a queen about to fall.
I should mention here that Billy Collins' exceptional Poetry 180 project advocates sharing poetry without much commentary or analysis at all, and this poem is ideal to share in that way as well. It is the perfect invitation back to school after the welcome but unexpected interruption of a snowstorm. And everyone loves that list of nursery school names at the end!
Brett Vogelsinger is a ninth-grade English teacher at Holicong Middle School in Bucks County, PA. He has been starting class with a poem each day for the past six years and is the creator of the Go Poems blog to share poetry reading and writing ideas with teachers around the world. Find him on Twitter @theVogelman.