- To access appropriate resources from the Chicago Humanities Festival and Poetry Foundation websites;
- To compare essays which outline the values and aims of reading, writing, and studying poetry;
- To create occasions to integrate poetry activities into the school culture;
- To select an original or published poem to create a poetry puzzle event;
- To create a template and a mechanism to deliver clues using a variety of strategies;
- To plan an event to unveil the puzzle poem;
- To examine a work of digital literature or a video-poem to explore the raw materials necessary to create an original work in that emerging genre;
- To evaluate and select found video or still images to create or composite a poetic text to accompany the images;
- To create a video narrative or collage of images to set the stage for creating a poetic text;
- To combine images and spoken text using digital tools.
Reading Standards for Literature 9 -12
Key Ideas and Details: 1 & 2
Craft and Structure: 4 & 5
Writing Standards 9-12
Production and Distribution of Writing: 4, 5 & 6
Speaking and Listening 9-12
Comprehension and Collaboration: 1 & 2
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas: 4, 5 & 6
- What role could poetry play in everyday life?
- What are the essential elements of a poem or poetic text?
- How can a poetic text embrace both language and image to convey its ideas and themes?
- How can poetry provide commentary on current or historical events?
- What are the resources of the Poetry Foundation or other online poetry resources that can integrate poetry in a students daily experience?
Thanks to the Internet, our access to a wide range of poetry resources is better than ever. You can also get a taste of poetry in a more tangible form at The Poetry Foundation, located in Chicago. The Poetry Foundation welcomes world-renowned poets, readers, and aspiring poets of all ages. And, the ability to explore the wealth of the Foundations resources is easy within the pages of Poetry magazine, or a mouse click away online.
The first step in exploring the resources of the Foundation is to access its website at poetryfoundation.org. The Poetry Learning Lab an archive of more than 800 poets and 8,000 poems offers discussion guides tied to issues of Poetry magazine, the Foundations primary outreach tool, as well as annotated poems, audio and video recordings, writing ideas, and discussion questions. The site even provides a poem of the day for study, reflection, and conversation.
Being an exploration of poetry by selecting several essays or manifestos from the site that focus on questions such as, why read poetry? why write poetry?, and what is the point of poetry? Small groups of students should read and discuss one essay or manifesto, with an eye to offering the authors take on the question: why does poetry matter? The small groups should then engage in a large group discussion or debate where they take on the viewpoint expressed in their essay or manifesto.
Next, challenge students to come up with a way to integrate poetry into their school culture or the framework of their English class. The next two activities offer potential ideas to accomplish this task.
Students may want to visit the Electronic Poetry Center (http://epc.buffalo.edu/) to familiarize them with one of the oldest online poetry resources, co-founded in 1995 by Charles Bernstein, whose work is the basis for the game of poetry featured in the next activity. The site is dedicated to archiving digital poetry and sponsors an International Digital Poetry Festival.
Another follow-up option is to screen Louder Than A Bomb, which will help generate enthusiasm about writing and performing poetry. Information about the film is available at www.louderthanabombfilm.com. Classes should also consider exploring the roster of events listed on the websites of The Poetry Foundation, Young Chicago Authors, and Chicago Publishes and plan a visit to hear and experience contemporary poetry live.
Optional extension: Students could stage their own poetry reading centered around a favorite poet, a specific form of poetry, or a theme and based on poetry selected from any of the suggested websites.
Optional extension: Explore other poetry websites, such as The Academy of American Poets at poets.org or Poets and Writers at pw.org. Students may also view episodes from the PBS series The United States of Poetry at http://www.worldofpoetry.org/usop/. The episodes are organized around themes such as The Land and the People, The American Dream, and A Day in the Life, among others.
The "Game" of Poetry
During the 2011 Chicago Humanities Festival, attendees were encouraged to seek clues that would complete the poem, "This Poem is in Finish," created for the occasion by Charles Bernstein. Festival attendees used a template to place clues that were identified by a letter and a number. Clues appeared on Power Point displays at various sessions throughout the two-week event, as well as on stickers that could be found at registration desks and elsewhere at festival venues. Clue hunters were encouraged to use Twitter to share clues and collaborate on the solution to the puzzle poem. Charles Bernstein unveiled that solution by reading the poem at the Poetry Foundation on the festivals final day (audio link: http://www.chicagohumanities.org/Genres/Literature/2011f-Attack-of-the-Difficult-Poems.aspx (16:00-17:45).
This Poem is in Finish
toggle here for translation
While I remain in English, either stranded or
As one drunken and wheeled to a paddy
Wagon. There was a time I drank blueberry
Wine but that was long ago and my powers
Of recollection are still too strong to forget.
As one overcome by waves of wanton flashbacks,
Acid dreams of moments all too real, finds
Himself mirrored by the mind of a very little
Boy trapped in the body of an old man.
For this activity, students will create a similar puzzle poem as a way to integrate poetry into their schools culture perhaps during April, which is National Poetry Month. Choosing an obscure poem by a well-known author or an original poem written by a student, teacher, or a community member would be the place to start. If an original poem is the goal, consider developing a contest to generate poems of the desired length. If an existing, published poem is used, it is important to select a poem that is difficult to search on the Internet or in print sources. If the poem is too easy to find, the adventure may be over before it has even begun!
Using the template created for Bernstein's poem, devise a skeleton of the poem that provides hints as to the poems subject, tone, and theme. Then, develop a plan to place clues at regular intervals over several weeks throughout the schools physical and cyber spaces. Plant clues on bulletin boards and on print materials. Consider using an icon, like CHF's light bulb, to draw attention to the placement of clues. Encourage teachers to post clues in their classroom spaces, on their handouts, and on their class websites. Set a date for an unveiling of the solution and how the solution will be unveiled. If a poem written by a well-known author is used, a secondary search could focus on discovering the identity of the poet.
Creating a Digital Artifact
Contemporary poets have found interesting ways to embrace technology. Claudia Rankine's work (www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/claudia-rankine) asks, how do technology and poetry creatively coexist? Rankines digital poetry, created with John Lucas, can be described as video poetry, since it combines spoken poetry with found or created video images. Her projects focus on racial, gender, and socio-economic issues. She outlines her aesthetic in an interview at Poets.org (http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/21017), and she discusses the process of marrying video and poetry during her presentation at CHF in November 2011 (http://www.chicagohumanities.org/Genres/Literature/2011f-Dont-Let-Me-Be-Lonely-Reading-with-Claudia-Rankine.aspx from 12:00 to 17:00).
Situation 1 (http://claudiarankine.com/) is a video-poem that isolates a moment from the 2006 FIFA World Cup when French soccer player Zinedine Zidane head butts Marco Materazzi after Zidane was taunted by the Italian player. The nine second altercation is slowed down and expanded to a five minute, slow-motion presentation that incorporates text from slurs uttered on the pitch to the poetry of Shakespeare. View the three "Situations" posted at Rankine's website (http://claudiarankine.com and click on situations) to examine the relationship between the images and the words in each piece. Notice that two of the three situations are based on historical events, while one is a narrative that was created by the poet and filmmaker to draw attention to a significant social issue.
Then students should plan and create a digital poem based on either an original poem or a hybrid text that blends various existing texts into a new form. Decide if the images that coordinate with the text will be based on existing images downloaded from the Internet or original video shot specifically for the digital poem. A wide variety of images can be accessed at Google Images (http://www.google.com/imghp) and at Life Magazines photo archives (http://www.life.com/). An especially useful feature of the Life site is today in pictures, which offers an opportunity to combine the photos with news copy for the relevant day to create a hybrid text. The site also allows for the easy creation of a timeline that could serve as the basis for a digital poem that tracks an historical event or social trend over time.
Students can also explore Aviary (http://www.aviary.com/), a suite of free online tools, to edit photos and add multiple layers of audio to their projects, including spoken word, sound effects, and music. Helpful tutorials are also available on the Aviary website. Students can start with the simple photo editing tool to learn the basics of the software before moving on to the advanced suite, where they can edit effects and audio, create music, scale images, and more.
Students and teachers who need technical and artistic support may want to turn to the Digital Youth Network as the Harold Washington Library (http://digitalyouthnetwork.org/). Students can also share their work with DYN at VIMEO (http://vimeo.com/digitalyouth).
These digital poems could be showcased during National Poetry Month as part of a series of events culminating with the unveiling of the students puzzle poem project.
Supplemental Print Resources:
Bengston, David. Creating Video Poetry. Lesson Plans for Creating Media-Rich Classrooms. Ed. Mary T. Christel and Scott Sullivan. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2007.
Bernstein, Charles. Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions. Chicago: U of C Press, 2011.
Buckley, Eileen Murphy. 360 Degrees of Text: Using Poetry to Teach Close Reading and Powerful Writing. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2011.
Kajder, Sara. Adolescents and Digital Literacies: Learning Alongside Our Students. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2010.
O'Connor. John S. Wordplaygrounds: Reading, Writing and Performing Poetry in the English Classroom. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2004.
Rankine, Claudia. Dont Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2004.