In this article, teacher Brittny Ray Crowell brings the poem, “I saw Emmett Till this week at the grocery store,” by Eve Ewing to “help students see that poetry can offer a means of reckoning with history and trauma, and to show them that there is power, and perhaps even beauty, in the process of artistic re-envisioning.”
“I urge my students, whether elementary school age or adults, to work for “abundance” as they walk: Look hard, pick up the messages in the cracks you’ve stepped over every single morning. Later you can choose among your riches for your poem” Naomi Shahib Nye writes. In this T&W archive article from 1997, Nye writes about her experience teaching in San Antonio where she and her students read poetry by Latinx poets closely, to inspire their writing processes, attentiveness to detail and their perceptions of their neighborhoods.
Teacher Andrew DeBella shares how he uses Pulitzer Prize winning artist Kendrick Lamar’s music to create a visceral experience of poetry in his classes. We are reminded here that to connect to poetry’s deeper meanings, we have to first feel it awaken within ourselves. Here is how Andrew creates this experience in his classroom:
National Book Award finalist Candice Iloh shares a lesson using the spoken word poem “Afro-Latina” by Elizabeth Acevedo, to ground students in their multiple identities and lived experiences and to utilize literary devices and source material in generative writing exercises.
Laura Wheatman Hill shares ideas to intrigue students with E. E. Cummings’ poem “l(a…(a leaf falls on loneliness)” and teaches students how a poems’ subject matter can often inform its structure.
This is a fun out-of-the-box exercise by Frank Ingrasciotta in which we visualize and describe the letters of the alphabet as pictures then write poems that riff on these pictures using the letters of our own names. The lesson works especially well for visual spatial learners and reinforces those skills for other young writers.
Collectively, all over the country and world, we are seeing the effects of what happens when we come together in the name of justice. The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop and so many others has sparked an unprecedented outcry for anti-racist structural change and a complete end to police violence against Black…