14 Writing the Body: Hands – Writing Exercise

Authors: Anastacia-Reneé, Teri Ellen Cross Davis, Shauna M. Morgan

Target Group: High School, Undergraduate 


Safiya Sinclair, “Hands” (Furious Flower 2019, pp. 305-306)


This generative writing exercise asks students/writers to read and analyze Safiya Sinclair’s poem “Hands” and then compose their own poem featuring hands and an engagement with the five senses and landscape. Landscape is defined as the writer’s environment, be it urban, suburban, or rural. Other prompts or areas to explore in the poem can include physiology, anatomy, the palm, the fingers and thumb, fingernails, etc.

Learning Objectives:

Students will hone their analytical skills by engaging, interrogating, and examining Safiya Sinclair’s “Hands” to deepen their level of observation and comprehension. Using the poem as a foundation and inspiration, students will create one original poem and expand their use of poetic devices.


  • Read Safiya Sinclair’s “Hands” and note your first impressions of the poem.
  • Identify all the places where hands appear or are referenced.
  • Draft your own “hands” poem considering the following questions:
    • Who do these hands belong to?
    • What do the hands feel, see, taste, hear, smell?
    • What do these hands say and/or experience?
    • Where do the hands go? Where do we see them in the landscape of the poem?

Supplemental Activities:

  • Listen to Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands” and explore connections with the poem.
  • Have students spend three minutes looking at and tracing their own hands.
  • Review the anatomy of the hand.
  • View Jacob Lawrence’s The Shoemaker and incorporate a lesson on ekphrasis.


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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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