Sunday, April 26, 2015

Poetry and service-learning

For the past few months, I've worked on a poetry project with a group of collegiate black men. They were tasked with responding to questions about Richard Wright's haiku as well as poems by Adrian Matejka, Tyehimba Jess, Tony Medina, and others. We were preparing short commentary on the poems that we then sent to high school black men who were going to read the poems that we covered and also provide commentary.

The project is part of an arts and humanities project on poetry for black men, which was funded by the Illinois Humanities Council. In some respects, the project has become a really important service-learning activity. The college students have gotten the opportunity to read and write about a range of poems, thus deepening their involvement with artistic literacy. At the same time, they participated in a series of activities where they write about poetry for high school students.    

Rarely do people think of writing about poetry as a form of volunteer work. But in the case of our project this semester, sharing commentary on poetry did serve that end. The poetry reading and then writing that the young men produced constituted helpful service to our groups of recipients.

Volumes of poetry, cell phone images, and textbooks
Reflections for Poetry Project
Reading T. Jess, J. McCall, T. Medina, F. X. Walker & K. Young in 2015
The Illinois Poetry Correspondence Program 

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