Three Poetry Final Projects for National Poetry Month

By Sharon Kunde

Marianne Moore argued that good poetry fashions “imaginary gardens with real toads in them”: worlds created of words in which toadlike reality crouches and springs on us, eliciting clenched hands, dilated eyes, “hair that can rise/if it must” (24, 5-6). Like good poetry, good pedagogy invites students into the world of ideas and allows them to create useful, authentic experiences and artifacts with those ideas.

While poems are easy to integrate into units on longer prose works, I strongly recommend devoting an entire unit (or more!) to poetry. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some suggestions for final projects around which you can build an engaging poetry unit.

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Given a choice, some students will choose to write poetry.

This post is excerpted from the book Creating Confident Writers: For High School, College, and Life by Troy Hicks and Andy Schoenborn (W. W. Norton, June 2020).

Perhaps one of our most important jobs as writing teachers is to help our writers understand that literacy is much more than reading, researching, and academic writing. For many students, the only real changes they see in their ELA and composition courses over the years are that the mechanical demands become stricter (with specific attention to MLA, APA, or other style guides) and the papers get longer. It is an unfortunate reality that turns many of those same students away from writing or, worse yet, forces them to see school-based prose as the only kind of writing that counts.

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As National Poetry Month Ends: Some Words of Comfort during a Pandemic

By Brett Vogelsinger, republished with permission from Go Poems.

Since reading a poem is a daily ritual in my class, patterns develop in our poetry selections.  One of those patterns—yes, a pattern students observe in much of the literature we read in English class—is that writers often tackle dense, heavy, depressing topics.  Poetry is no exception.  And I would argue it is important to bring these types of poems to our students.


However, we also live in an age of crushing anxiety, and each year I see more students struggle to maintain their emotional health.  I want to be sure that English class, and particularly a routine that begins our class period most days, does not deliver a daily dose of doom.  Picture the Pavlovian effect of that for a moment:  Bell rings, gloomy poem emerges on the screen, discussion of humanity’s darkest moments ensues. . . what might be the effect of that day after day after day on our students?

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