Friday, August 11, 2023

Reading Reginald Harris's "The Lost Boys" a little earlier

Over the years, I've covered Reginald Harris's poem "The Lost Boys: A Requiem" in a course I teach for first-year collegiate black men, but I'm wondering if I was initially covering the poem too late in the semester. 

Like many literature professors, I was initially inclined to cover materials chronologically. You know, we'd cover Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and so forth in that order.  So we'd end up at Harris's poem a little later in the semester, because he's a 21st century writer.

After covering the poem though, his idea of "lost boys" would become a frame and jumping off point for guys to discuss the various lost boys from their own environments. Then, well beyond the day we cover the poem, I begin asking the guys questions like "at what age did black boys you grew up with lose interest in school?" "Where did we lose black boy readers?" "What can we do to help guys find their interests in various ideas?" 

Harris's "The Lost Boys" became our common point of reference for those questions, which lead to useful discussions. Covering the poem and raising those kinds of questions earlier in the semester might be a path forward. 


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