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Lesson Plan: The Performance of Poetry
Teaching Resources
  • Technology to share online videos with the class
  • Access to the Poetry Out Loud collection in Mandala Audio-Video
  • Access to Youtube
  • Handouts of "Ode to Planetarium," by Marcella Durand
  • Student poems (see below)
Before the class

Ask your students to bring a poem they appreciate. They can bring their own poems or the work of a poet they enjoy.

Activity I: Comparing poems as written and as performed

Objective: To understand poetry as both a written and oral genre, and some of the challenges to reading poetry out loud. 

Hand out copies of the poem "Ode to Planetarium" by Marcella Durand. Then, ask students to read the poem silently. When they are finished, they should jot down a few thoughts as to meaning or construction. 

Play the recording of the poem from the Poetry Out Loud collection. How does hearing the poem alter their understanding? Were they surprised by any aspect of the poem? What information is lost, and what is gained? How might the poet have considered the performance aspect of the poem while writing it? 

Related Resources

Bernstein, Charles, Al Filreis, and Michael S. Hennessey. PennSound, Edited by Chris Mustazza, Christopher J. Martin and Zach Carduner., 2005.

Activity II: Discussing space in performance

Objective: To understand the impact of space and body in poetry. 

Play two videos for your students: Sara Brickman's "Talking Shit to Sadness", performed at the 2015 National Poetry Slam, and Joshua Bennett's "Tamara's Ode," performed at the White House. How do these performers use their bodies to convey meaning? How does venue influence the reading? How might the poet modulate their performance in response to a certain audience? 

After activites

Invite students to read the poems they brought out loud. If you like, you can assign video projects: compile a collection of class readings in Mandala video. 

Lesson Plan: The Performance of Poetry
Collection Teaching Poetry
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users
UID mandala-texts-46641