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Finding Poetry in Prose: Reading and Writing Love Poems
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Three 50-minute sessions|
San Francisco, California
When students think of love poetry, they almost invariably think of poetry about romantic love. This lesson expands the concept of love poems to move beyond romantic love to explore other kinds of love, particularly the love within a family. Students work in small groups to read and analyze poems that expand the definition of love poetry. They write or select a personal memoir about love, particularly focusing on love within a family. Finally, they compose and peer review found poems based on the memoir.
This lesson was developed as a companion for The Mystery of Love, a PBS documentary featured in the lesson. For additional information on the documentary and those who made it possible see The Mystery of Love Website.
- Guiding Questions for Reading Poems about Love: Students can use this handout as a guide when reading love poems from a variety of poets.
- Found Poem Instructions: This handout offers step-by-step instructions for creating a found poem from a piece of prose.
- The Mystery of Love Website: This companion site to the PBS special explores the many kinds of love that give shape and meaning to life.
One of the strongest ways to teach students about how poets and poetry works is to encourage them to write their own poetry. This lesson asks students to create found poetry after analyzing several poems to identify what makes them powerful. As Dunning and Stafford explain, the advantage of found poems is that "you don't start from scratch. All you have to do is find some good language and ‘improve' it" (3). These two teachers note that "poems hide in things you and others say and write. They lie buried in places where language isn't so self-conscious as ‘real poetry' often is. [Writing found poems] is about keeping your ears and eyes alert to the possibilities in ordinary language " (3).