Teach This Poem: "These Poems" by June Jordan
Water and Stones in the Black Sea
This image is in the public domain.
- Project the image of stones in the Black Sea in front of the class without mentioning that the stones are underwater. Ask your students to write down what they notice in the photograph. Where do they think these stones might be (for example, on a hillside, in the plains)? Why? Next, ask your students to write down what might happen to a stone in this setting. Finally, ask them to imagine what stones might do in this setting (for example, sing), even if it’s not physically possible. Ask them to share what they have noticed and imagined with a partner.
- Project “These Poems” in front of the class. Ask your students to read the poem silently, writing down the words and phrases that jump out at them. Ask one student to read the poem aloud while the listening students list anything new that they hear. Play the audio recording of June Jordan reading her poem and have your students write down the words and phrases that jump out them one more time.
- Introduce or review with your students the concept of a metaphor.
- Small-group discussions: Ask your students to share their lists with the other members of a small group. Did they notice similar things in the poem? What are some differences among their lists? Ask them to identify any metaphors in the lists they have shared.
- Whole-class discussion: What do your students think the speaker in the poem is saying about her poems? What is the evidence in the poem that leads them to think this?
- Ask your students to write a poem or paragraph about what poems mean to them. Encourage them to use metaphors, if they can.