Friday, March 17, 2017

Go Poem #3 -- Listening For Context

by Brett Vogelsinger

The poem "In Two Seconds" is longer than most poems we use in a poem a day activity, but it is also relevant, provocative, and deep.  Mark Doty wrote this poem in response to the killing of Tamir Rice by a Cleveland police officer.

Try giving the class a copy of the poem turned face down on their desk, requiring them to listen to the poem before they look at it.  You may provide a little context, explaining that this poem is protest poem about an injustice, but let them listen to pick out the other pieces.

After hearing the poem, have them turn over the handout and read it the second time with the goal of answering this question:  What can you tell me about the injustice Mark Doty is writing about?  What happened?  What does the poet condemn about this incident?

Have students share the specific lines that answer these questions.  Be sure to include at the end of your discussion:  Which lines would you most like to discuss with the poet? What new questions does this poem provoke in your mind? This is not a poem for easy answers, so it is important to me to end a discussion of a poem like this in a state of inquiry.

Brett Vogelsinger teaches freshman English students at Holicong Middle School in Doylestown, PA where he starts class with a poem each day. Follow his work on Twitter @theVogelman.

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