Archive | August 2013

VerseDay: Teaching Verse and Verse Novels

Collage poem

Poetry is a “core” subject, whatever that means. And most of us remember a time (or are still living in it) when the teacher announced “We’re going to start a poetry unit”

And everyone groaned.

I think there are fun ways to teach poetry. I’ve frequently had a blast teaching poetry units to students from toddlers to adults. Recently I taught four groups of teens at Vancouver Public Library Book Camp. Admittedly they were a literary bunch, but I think everyone had a lot of fun. So I thought I’d upload my PDFs in case any teachers or writers want to use them. Warning – they rely heavily on my upcoming books, AUDACIOUS and CAPRICIOUS so sorry in advance for the self promotion.

Course Plan (pdf)

foundpoem12 (pdf – supporting materials for one of the exercises)


This entry was posted on August 28, 2013. 2 Comments

VerseDay – Verse as history.

I posted some political verse video a few weeks back, but I’d like to revisit that topic for this VerseDay. Recently we were all fascinated, surprised and many of us disappointed with the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the death of Trayvon Martin.

Many bloggers, politicians, journalists and celebrities weighed in. Many poets too. I struck me, the immediacy of poetry as a method of social commentary and historical record, and reminded me of my interest in WWI poetry -especially that written in trenches. Poetry is better, in my opinion, in capturing for eternity the emotion in political and social events. While we can all blithely read history books about WWI, for example, few of us can read the poetry of Wilfred Owen without being emotionally affected.

In a year, five years, ten years, it is the poetry written about Trayvon Martin that will make us remember the emotions of his death and the trial. Here are some samples:

A Poem in Memory of Trayvon Martin: ‘Anyone’s Son’  by Tara Skurtu

Anyone’s Son

— for the family of Trayvon Martin

This poem wants to write itself backwards.
Wishes it were born memory instead, skipping

time like a record needle…read more

City Lights Bookstore post a Langston Hughes poem – not written in the moment of course, (Hughes died in 1967) but still depressingly apt:

Kids Who Die – Langston Hughes

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on…read more

Finally black Hollywood actors united in this powerful videopoem by Omari Hardwick:

A beautiful poem, and what a great video. Years from now, people in the history of racism in America will look to these poems, and understand.