After developing a foundation for analyzing poetry by using the strategies outlined in Lesson 2, students will read and discuss a selection of poems that specifically focus on themes that have been previously addressed in the literature read in class through out the year. Students will continue to examine the significance of these themes as they materialize in the writings of a diverse group of poets. Among the themes that will be addressed are isolation, oppression, loyalty, sexism, autonomy, feminism, justice, and survival. Students will examine ways in which poets speak about these themes. They will begin to appreciate poetry as another medium for authors to express commentary on the pressing social issues of the times.
Poems and Books Used
"The Certainty" by Roque Dalton
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
"Public School 190, Brooklyn, 1963" by Martín Espada
"The Colonel" by Carolyn Forché
"Theme for English B" by Langston Hughes
A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
"Coal" by Audre Lorde
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
"Nativity: For Two Salvadoran Women, 1968-87" by Demetria Martinez
"Postcards from El Barrio" by Willie Perdomo
"To the Pay Toilet" by Marge Piercy
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
In this lesson, students will
- read a selection of poems;
- examine the significance of specific themes that manifest themselves in the writing of a diverse group of poets;
- explore how authors rely on personal experiences in their writing;
- examine how poets write about the pressing social issues of the times;
- investigate how these social issues impact political, economic, and social systems;
- draw parallels between how authors express themes in their books and how poets express themes in their poems; and
- conduct research and write an essay.
Eight sixty minute classes
Resources and Materials
copies of aforementioned poems
copies of biographies on the poets
copies of related writings from novels and other written works
- Have students brainstorm, discuss, and review how the themes of isolation, oppression, loyalty, sexism, autonomy, feminism, justice and survival materialized in the literature read through out the year.
- Create individual "Theme Webs" that highlight the aforementioned themes' roles in the following literature: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, "Julius Caesar," To Kill a Mockingbird, A Separate Peace, and "A Doll's House."
- Split the themes up into groups of two. Concentrate on each group of themes for two class periods.
- Distribute copies of the poems, from the aforementioned list, for each theme addressed in class.
- Conduct readings in class for each poem.
- Facilitate discussions that focus on meaning and similarities and differences in the poems and the books. Have students make analogies between the themes used to express social commentary by the poets and the themes used by other writers to express social commentary.
- Students will write a comparative analysis of one of the aforementioned poems and one of the aforementioned works of literature.
- Conduct reasearch on the Internet for the Follow Up writing assignment.
Each student will be required to go on the Internet to research and identify a poet that they feel addressed social commentary in their writing. Students are to read a minimum of two poems by that poet. Students are to analyze the poems, according to strategies in Lesson 2, and highlight the social issues that the poet addresses in his/her writing. Students should pay particular attention to common themes that are present in the poems and the works of literature read in class through out the year. Students are to write a critique about the poet. In the critique, students should, in a detailed discussion, address whether they believe their chosen poet effectively expresses social commentary in their writing.