Tag Archives: Poetry

National Poetry Month – Lyric Poetry

lyricWe’re now in our second week of celebrating National Poetry Month! Last week, we looked at narrative poetry. This week our focus is lyric poetry. A lyric poem is a short poem of songlike quality. Lyric poetry is a genre that, unlike epic and dramatic poetry, does not attempt to tell a story but instead is of a more personal nature while focusing on thought and emotion. The following resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org support work with lyric poetry.

Poetry Made Easy: Of Swag and Sense” shares how a ninth grade teacher used lyric poetry in her classroom. They explored how imagery reifies theme, how musical devices create mood, and how diction affects theme and mood. Connections were made later to concepts with the prose and drama they read thereafter.

‘Beautiful’ Poetry: Tuning In to Poetry through Rhythm” taps into the music of
language, to introduce rhythm and beat in poetry, and help students hear metrical patterns.

John Donne provides a great example of lyric poetry. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and is often considered the greatest love poet in the English language. “Donne’s ‘The Token’: A Lesson in the Fashion(ing) of Canon” examines the work of Donne as part of Renaissance literature.

To work more with lyric poetry, pass out an example of the Italian sonnet “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, and Where, and Why (Sonnet XLIII)” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Have three students read the poem aloud, one at a time. This technique, touted by Sheridan Blau, helps students to get immersed in the poem. By the third reading, students have had time to absorb the readings and think about possible meanings.

What other ideas are there for incorporating lyric poetry?

Poems that Tell a Story

narrative-poetryEach year the month of April is set aside as National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate poets and their craft. Various events are held throughout the month by the Academy of American Poets and other poetry organizations. Follow along this month as we unpack some genres of poetry and find related resources from NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org.

We will kick off with looking at narrative poetry. This genre of poetry tells a story, usually with a human interest element. Narrative poetry combines poetic language with short-story elements and is thought to be the oldest type of poetry. “Poetry Preference Research: What Young Adults Tell Us They Enjoy” shares that the most popular type of poem chosen by a survey of students was the narrative.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote narrative poetry and one example is “The Raven”. The lesson plan “Modeling Reading and Analysis Processes with the Works of Edgar Allan Poe” invites students to explore reading strategies using “The Raven” and other works. Students read Poe’s works in both large- and small-group readings then conclude with a variety of projects.

Chaucer also provides examples of narrative poetry. However, high school students can see reading The Canterbury Tales as daunting. “Avoid the Edifice Complex and Enjoy Teaching Chaucer” shares lessons “combining the literary and the vulgar” that fully engage the students with the text. Another strategy is to explore The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales using wikis.

What narrative poems are used in your classroom?

Celebrate March Madness — with Poetry!

blankbracketresizedEvery March, NCTE hosts a March Madness Poetry Tournament. The idea is to create a basketball tournament-pairing chart like the NCAA does each year in March using poetry and to determine a final winner by reading the poems.

There are numerous ways to choose a “winner”:

  • The students select the poems – The teacher lets the students select their favorite poems and then creates the tournament brackets. Two students read their poems in front of the class. The class votes and the winning poems advance to the next round. The process continues until the final four and eventual winner are selected.
  • The teacher selects the poems – The teacher selects 64 (or 32) poems and reads them in pairs, one pair each day. The students select the one they like best. This poem is then declared a winner and advances along the tournament bracket. Another day and another match-up occurs and so on until all poems are read once. The second round of play starts then. Again, select two of the first-round winners in the proper order and brackets and read these again. Again, the class votes and so on until the final four and eventual winner are selected.
  • A combination of student and teacher selected – The teacher and students select the poems. Then, a combination of the teacher and students read the poems.

Some specific ideas were shared in this article from the Language Arts Journal of Michigan.

Read about past tournaments and get a blank bracket-pairing chart to start your own tournament today!

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day is recognized every year on March 21. This is the day in which UNESCO recognises the moving spirit of poetry and its transformative effect on culture. To honor World Poetry Day, take some time to read and explore writers from around the globe and bring their works into the classroom.

Durante degli Alighieri, simply called Dante, was a major Italian poet of the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. “The Art of Imitation” invites students to craft verse-narratives that mimic the character, plot, and stylistic devices of Dante, as well as Chaucer.

Alastair Reid was a Scottish poet and a scholar of South American literature. Author Naorni Shihab Nye, in “Globos = Balloons“, shares the power of translating poems using a piece from Reid.

India’s Rabindranath Tagore authored a timeless poem, “The man had no useful
work.” “Classic Connections: Aiding Literary Comprehension through Varied Liberal Arts Alliances” explores using that poem as the inspiration for dramatic interpretation.

Rose Macaulay was an English novelist and writer. “Mimesis: Grammar and the Echoing Voice” uses an example by Rose Macaulay to show how she selected her words, as all the adjectives work hard in her description.

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. This article from English Journal used a work from Ibsen to investigate students’ attitudes about
gender.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era, popular in Britain and the United States during her lifetime. This lesson plan from ReadWriteThink.org invites students into “Finding Poetry in Prose: Reading and Writing Love Poems“.

What are your plans for celebrating World Poetry Day?

Advocating for Change through Artistic Expression

The following guest post is by author Sharon Draper. Draper will be the keynote speaker for the Children’s Book Awards Luncheon and one of our featured speakers on the Authors as Advocates panel at the 2016 NCTE Annual Convention.

SharonDraperThose who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.  I’m paraphrasing here, but the knowledge of the past and the words written to preserve that knowledge are waiting in books. Fiction. Nonfiction. Drama. Poetry. Add to that art and music and color and sound and rhythm and all the manifestations thereof, and we as humans survive and continue.

I remember a powerful short story that we read during a senior literature class I taught. I cannot recall the title, but it was about a music box—the last one in the world. The story took place after the final apocalypse, and basic human survival was a daily life-and-death struggle. And what was the most prized possession of the world in which everything had been destroyed? That music box. It was the only item left on the face of the earth that carried music and art and beauty. Wars were fought—not for food, but for that one piece of beauty. So I asked my students—do we need artistic expression to be fully human? Most of them decided that yes, we do.

What I do through my artistic expression is miniscule, compared to the magnitude of all we need to breathe and think. But I feel uplifted when I see a painting of a sunset that my heart recognizes. I feel satiated when I smell honeysuckle in the summer. I incorporate lots of sensory imagery in my writing—not because a writing professor told me to, but because that is how I inhale the world, how I process all the beauty of life.

Through writing, we have the opportunity to save humanity—one word at a time. I am so grateful to be part of the artistic process, to be one with the drummers and the singers and the photographers who capture a moment.

Reporters sometimes ask me, “Who is your audience?”

I reply, “People who read. People who think they don’t like to read. People who think and connect to others. People who are searching.”

“What do you hope readers take from your books?”

“Memories. Joys. Sorrows. Shared community. Characters. Story. Smiles. Tears. Vision. Hope.”

“So how do your stories promote change?”

“Often they do not. But when they do, this is what happens:

  • Kids read a book all the way through to the end.
  • They tuck [books] in their backpack and dig them out during math class when they are supposed to be doing subtraction.
  • They take [a book] home and share it with their mother.
  • They refuse to return the book, saying they lost it.
  • They identify with the characters in the story, saying that life mirrors their own.
  • They laugh. They cry. They get angry at characters.
  • They read a book many times.
  • They think about their life, their future, their possibilities.
  • They see dances. They hear echoes. They touch a symphony.”

This is a book in the hands of a child.

StellabyStarlightSharon M. Draper is the author of over 30 award-winning books, including Out of my Mind, which remains on the NYT bestseller list. She served as the National Teacher of the Year, has been honored at the White House six times, and was chosen to be a literary ambassador to the children of Africa as well as China.  Her newest novel, Stella by Starlight, won the 2016 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children.