I have always believed that poetry is the best way to begin any senior English programme. The reasons for this include - I love poetry (which ensures my delivery will be enthusiastic), poetry is usually fairly compact (which allows for easy digestion after a long hot summer out of the classroom), and most importantly it is a form of literature that combines language techniques, theme and structural devices very "explicitly", meaning that you have to engage with the mechanics of literature if you are to discuss it at any length.
Films and novels can be discussed for eons and students haven't even moved past the plot, where as poetry demands you pay closer attention! There is a sense of it possessing an exoskeleton - the bones and the organs that make it come to life are there for all to see. I believe if you can get a student dissecting a poem in the first week, you are going to set them up with the skills they need for dismembering larger texts later in the year.
Below are two versions of a particular favourite - Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. If you have students who fear poetry begin with Ben Harper's version, then introduce Angelou's. To me it provides just enough complexity to get students to really tackle the use of language and structural techniques and to stress the the importance having an understanding of the social and historical context, but still being straight forward enough that the students can "get it". Rich...but easy on the stomach!