What are some events in an individual’s life in our culture that people celebrate and commemorate? (e.g., birth and … )
What are some occasions, including but not limited to holidays, in a community’s life that people celebrate and commemorate?
How do poets and poems specifically contribute to celebration and commemoration?
POETRY LESSON #14: Celebrating and commemorating
Consider the concept of “stones of remembrance” used in ancient Israel. In Genesis, we read that the patriarch Avraham built altars to remember God’s intervention in his life. Elsewhere, we read that when Joshua led his people across the Jordan River, he ordered a piling of stones, one stone for each of the twelve tribes entering the land. These stones memorialized communal experience. How are poems metaphorically akin to such stones? What functions do such stones and poems serve?
Watch a clip of Maya Angelou reading, “On the Pulse of Morning,” at the presidential inauguration. Discuss the role of the poet and the significance of her poem. Then, remember attending other civil or religious ceremonies. Was poetry included in some way? Why? What was the effect?
poems of praise for individual people, such as heroes or leaders
poems in celebration of high holidays
Walt Whitman, “When lilacs in the dooryard bloomed” and “O Captain! My Captain!”
Emily Dickinson, “Success is counted sweetest”
Write a celebratory or commemorative poem. Think primarily about your audience as you write. How can you express their thoughts and feelings in your words?
Do you want to be a professional poet? What sort of work can you do that will involve you with poetry full-time and pay your bills? Brainstorm some answers to these questions! This will be the focus of our next meeting.
Your final projects will also be due on our last day, so be sure to work on the final revisions of your poems as well as the other requirements of your chosen project.