LLA Teacher Cale Kavanaugh is Well-Versed in Poetry


Photo by Jane Zou

In 2016, LLA teacher Cale Kavanaugh posted his sets of poems and thoughts on his portfolio website, including his struggle with understanding humanity’s purpose.

Jane Zou, Staff Writer

When literary and language arts teacher Cale Kavanaugh finishes teaching syntax, his words flow from his mind to the paper in the form of free verse poetry. Surprisingly, he did not enjoy poetry in high school because the purpose and meaning within the lines did not make sense. It was not until his senior year that his understanding of poetry deepened.

“I had a teacher who was very influential, and I really liked the way she taught poetry,” Kavanaugh said. “I started to understand how poetry is a vessel of communication, that people can communicate ideas in ways that are different and unique. And they can express things using words that we can’t normally express through other art mediums.”

Kavanaugh continued this newfound passion in senior year and through college, refining his writing style by continuing to read and write poetry in his journal or on his laptop. He often writes about his life events, which manifest mainly through metaphors.

“I write about things that have to do with even my faith or things that have to do with morality,” Kavanaugh said. “Like when someone passes, I write something about that; if something exciting is happening, I’d write something about that. Sometimes it’s just random thoughts or meditations that I’m having or reflections that stand out that I think would be interesting to explore and share.”

According to Kavanaugh, the main difference between a meaningful poem and a lackluster poem is how the writer stylistically delivers the message.

“Sometimes people forget what they’re talking about in a poem because they want to sound poetic,” Kavanaugh said. “They get lost trying to make sure it rhymes, so it doesn’t have a meaning or a point and just is a bunch of words that rhyme.”

Kavanaugh’s free verse poems do not conform to the meter and rhyming regulations of other forms of poetry, which makes it easier for abstract ideas to translate on paper. Poetry is how Kavanaugh captures his life’s moments and processes the purpose of everyday events, such as the I-10 highway and anxiety. Although he does not actively post, Kavanaugh has a collection of his poems from 2016 on his portfolio website.

“A good poem resonates with people so that when they read it they can relate to a piece of it and it communicates something about the human experience that sets us apart from other creatures,” Kavanaugh said. “The fact that we can express and use language in these ways [is] so strange and bizarre when you compare them with other creatures.”