PASSING POETRY ON: TWO LESSONS
Source of Poems:
Elderly residents of students' communities.
The best poetry is lasting, and will speak across historical and generational divides. Through poetry, this exercise encourages students to connect with someone from another generation and to reflect upon the power and longevity of poems rhythms, ideas, feelings and images.
Lesson by Sean Cusick, Shepherd Hill Regional School, Dudley, MA
Source of Poems:
Poetry was originally handed down from one person to another, whether linearly (within a family or tribe) or laterally (by visiting bards). The purpose of this assignment is to preserve poetry by passing on a poem to a person of another generation.
1. Discussion/Free Write: Is there a poem that you know because someone shared it or passed it on to you? Why did that person share it with you? Do you know why the poem was important to that person? Why are/were you important to that person? Would you share the poem with someone else who? Is there another poem you'd like to pass on to someone else? (If students have not "inherited" a poem from someone in their lives, let them write during this time about something that's been passed on to them an object, or song or recipe or piece of art).
2. Students will choose a poem they wish to share with someone else not necessarily the poem they've received, especially if it's a nursery rhyme or children's poem. They should choose a poem that is relevant to them now, that speaks to their current frame of mind and experience. The person they choose to share the poem with should be someone old enough to read and understand the poem.
3. Show some of the Favorite Poem Project videos. If students would like to share that experience with a family member or other person, the teacher may choose to lend the tape in turns, or students could access videos on the website.
4. Assignment to students:
Find some time to share the poem with your chosen "inheritor" time enough to read it aloud to him/her and have a real conversation about it. You should explain the idea that poems can by passed on in an ongoing cycle and tell the person about someone who "gave" you a poem once, and any other links in that chain. Invite the person to share the poem with someone else, and to tell you about that, or to share another poem with you.
Write a short response/journal piece about the experience. Where do you imagine this poem will "be" by the time a year has passed? Ten years? How many people will be linked together by this poem?
Lesson by Kate Oneschuk, Holliston High School, Holliston, MA