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Two factors contribute to the quality of your student performance:
#1: Energy - your voice energy should be coming from your gut and be physically pushed out to the audience.
#2: Close attention to the text - You have to listen to the text as you speak it.
When you listen to the text, you are in the moment. Do NOT ask your students to memorize the delivery of the performance; it won't be honest or believable. The performance shouldn't be exactly the same each time. Rather, by listening to themselves in the moment, they will respond organically and discover the poem anew each time.
When you are doing a close reading with the text, make sure you don't ask them to generalize the mood of the poem. A generalized mood will make for a generalized performance. Instead, take the poem line by line, figure out what the most important words are in each sentence and how they should be spoken.
These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on the POL rubric category "Difficulty." Please comment with your own ideas about what makes for a difficult poem! This is #4 in our POL series. Other POL discussion threads include subjectivity of judging, what makes a good poetry recitation, and choosing a poem to recite.
Poetry Recitation: What makes for a "difficult" poem?
Please comment with your ideas about what makes for a difficult poem.
These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on how choosing a poem can determine the success of a recitation. Please comment with your own ideas! Other POL discussion threads include subjectivity of judging and what makes a good poetry recitation?
How does the poem chosen reflect or determine the success of the recitation?
These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on judging and subjectivity issues. Please comment with your own ideas!
How do you and your students grapple with issues of subjectivity in the judging process?
These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on what makes a good poetry recitation. Please comment with your own ideas!
by Julie Swarstad
Born in 1941, Billy Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003. He has published eight collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room (Random House 2001), The Trouble with Poetry (Random House 2005), and most recently Ballistics (Random House 2008). Collins is the recipient of numerous awards including Poetry's 1994 Poet of the Year Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York.
Collins will be reading for the UA Poetry Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus on Sunday, November 7th at 3 p.m. Tickets are available through UA Presents.
Billy Collins has been called "America's Most Popular Poet" by Time Magazine, reflecting the enormous appeal his work has for a variety of audiences. Ballistics, his latest collection, is a great choice for introducing students to this former Poet Laureate's work.
by Bryan Davis
Bryan Davis is the Director of Holocaust Education at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.
What words did victims of the Holocaust use to attempt to represent their experiences during the war? They were faced with the unthinkable challenge of realizing (depending on when they wrote) that what they wrote would be used as a marker of their place individually, and the Jewish place collectively, in history, as they were being systematically annihilated and that at the same time, words were inadequate for representing the horrors they experienced.
Hélène Berr was a twenty-one year old student in the English Studies Department at the Sorbonne when, in 1942, she began keeping a diary in her home in avenue Elisee-Reclus in German occupied Paris. Hélène came from an affluent family, she was well read in British literature, especially the Romantic poets, and she was a gifted amateur violinist. Hélène's diary served shifting and overlapping purposes for her during the time she kept it from April 1942-February 1944. At times Hélène hoped the diary would provide a message to her fiancé Jean who had fled France to join the resistance, while increasingly, as the persecutions around her grew closer and more brutal, she hoped to use the diary to "tell the story." On October 10, 1943 she wrote:
by Timothy Dyke
Timothy Dyke is a first year Masters student at the University of Arizona in creative writing. From 1992 to the spring of 2010, he lived in Honolulu, Hawaii and taught English to high school students at Punahou school. He serves as an Education Intern at the Poetry Center.
Visual art can be a safe and engaging entry point into poetry for young learners. Students who become confused when asked to say what a poem means can feel a sense of relief and eagerness if asked to choose a crayon that matches the "color" of a poem, or when invited to draw a picture inspired by words on a page. Poets and visual artists have collaborated for centuries, and some of the best examples of these multimedia explorations can motivate young people to look at the written word through a visual lens.
by Joni Wallace
Joni Wallace's poetry collection Blinking Ephemeral Valentine was selected by Mary Jo Bang for the 2009 Levis Prize and is forthcoming from Four Way Books (March, 2011). Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Barrow Street, Blue Mesa Review, Conduit, Cutbank, Forklift, Ohio, Laurel Review and have been featured in Connotations Press, An Online Artifact. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana. Joni is also a musician and co-founder, with poet Ann Dernier, of Poets' Studio.
"These are the poetry birds, Mom," says my beaming five-year-old, presenting me with her drawing. "And...they are famous." For the last two years these birds have graced the wall in the room where I write. If they had a song, it would be "attention, pay attention." And they remind of something Dean Young wrote of poets: we are trying to make birds, not birdhouses. This same "birdness" is what Richard Shelton calls "claritas:" those moments of clairvoyant transcendence that come through poems when poems work.
by Sarah Kortemeier
Sarah Kortemeier is a teaching artist and is completing her MFA at the University of Arizona. She also teaches undergraduate poetry and composition courses at the U of A.
The Poetry Center's first fall Poetry Joeys is happening this Saturday, Sept. 25th at 10:00 a.m.
When I taught Poetry Joeys for the 7-9 age group this spring at the Poetry Center, I had the pleasure of working with a class of very energetic and intellectually curious children. During our first lesson, one boy asked me if I knew what a chimera was: clearly, this was a group of kids who loved words. I saw immediately that many of the students were deeply attracted to learning the sense of new words; by the acquisition and use of complex vocabulary, they were attempting to achieve a more diverse, complicated, and sophisticated view of the world.
Needless to say, this class was a blast to teach.