Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 Bonus Post -- Reckoning With Enemies

Thanks for following along with Go Poems this year.  Enjoy using the 30 new ideas (and 30 ideas from 2017) in your classroom, and look for new posts coming in March of 2019.  If you are interested in writing a post for Go Poems, please contact me on Twitter @theVogelman, as it is never too early to start planning posts for next year. 

For now, enjoy this special bonus post from Carol Jago to conclude our project this year, and help your students reckon with "enemies."

by Carol Jago

Public discourse has become brutally contentious. We seem to be losing the ability to consider those who think differently from us with any equanimity.

In his poem “Enemies” Wendell Berry reflects on this dilemma.

1. Before reading the poem, ask students to write for a few minutes about whether they think one should forgive one’s enemies.

2. Read the poem aloud and then have students read the poem once more silently. Invite them to talk with a partner about the apparent contradiction expressed in the first two stanzas.

3. How is forgiveness like “sunlight / on a green branch”?

4. What would it mean to think of enemies “as monsters like yourself”?

Further Reading: 

Carol Jago has taught middle and high school in Santa Monica, CA for many years and served as president of the National Council of Teachers of English. The Poetry Foundation website is her “go to” source in April and always.

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