22 Single Poet Workshop: Context and Conversation – Workshop Lesson Plan

Authors: Shameka Cunningham, McKinley E. Melton, Adrienne Danyelle Oliver, Carmin Wong

Target Group: All Ages

This is a generalized version of “Glenis Redmond: Context and Conversation – Workshop Lesson Plan”

Workshop Objectives

  • Gain/strengthen language for talking about poetry
  • Introduce a particular poet (with an emphasis on context and community)
  • Empower students to envision themselves as part of the creative community

Community Workshop – Structure

Part One: Engaging with the poet’s life through the poet’s work

  • Presentation: Provide participants with key biographical information, including historical context, key events/experiences, and relationships in their life.
  • Discussion questions: What do we know about the poet’s life & experience? How does it impact their work, including and beyond poetry?
  • Resources: Provide participants with video of the poet delivering a reading, giving a lecture, or engaging in an interview.

Part Two: Engaging with a specific poem, with an emphasis on form and craft

  • Lead workshop participants through a “deep dive” into a single poem.
    • Highlight technical elements of the poem.
    • Review language for literary devices and strategic craft decisions, with a consideration of impact and how particular craft choices shape the experience of the poem.
  • Creative exercise: Invite participants to model/replicate particular techniques in their own work.

Part Three: Engaging with a specific poem, with an emphasis on theme and content

  • Meditate and reflect upon the resonant themes that shape the experience of this poem.
  • Creative exercise: What’s going on in your life that would show up on the page?

Part Four: How do we think about this poem/poet in conversation with other poems/poets?

  • Lead participants through a discussion of how this poem works alongside others (with respect to form and content).
  • Provide participants with a “Further Reading List” that they can take with them, following the workshop.
  • Creative exercise: Remind/Reinforce their understanding of how they are in conversation with this poem, based on the work that they have produced or might/will produce.


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The Furious Flower Syllabus Project: Opening the World of Black Poetry Copyright © 2024 by Anastacia-Reneé; allia abdullah-matta; Ariana Benson; Mary Beth Cancienne; Teri Ellen Cross Davis; Shameka Cunningham; Hayes Davis; Tyree Daye; Angel C. Dye; Brian Hannon; T.J. Hendrix; DaMaris B. Hill; Meta DuEwa Jones; Shauna M. Morgan; Adrienne Danyelle Oliver; Leona Sevick; James Smethurst; Dana A. Williams; L. Lamar Wilson; Carmin Wong; Dave Wooley; and Joanne V. Gabbin (preface) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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