Here at TeachingBooks.net, we think a lot about the wonderful ways that technology, the Internet, and Web 2.0 can enhance student and teacher enjoyment of poetry and poets (and books and authors in general). There are excellent web tools and strategies for using technology to help connect with the work of deceased poets and to nurture student enthusiasm for poetry.
Below you’ll find a few ideas to try. Each features a poem from Langston Hughes. Please feel free to add your strategies for bringing poetry and poets to life via technology in the comments section, and I look forward to your Poetry Friday posts!
Give poets a voice!
Hearing poetry read aloud is important to comprehending and connecting to it. In some cases a deceased poet’s voice has been captured on an audio recording, like the clip below of Langston Hughes. However, just hearing a skilled actor perform Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud is invaluable. A wealth of audio poetry resources exist online. I found the following audio clip by searching the TeachingBooks.net database:
Give poets a face!
Watching video of a poet performing a poem enriches a listener’s connection to both the poet and to the poem’s message. I realized this for myself when I recently watched online videos of Lucille Clifton reading selected poems. On TeachingBooks you can search for video Author Programs with poets (hint: use Guided Search). Various other sites, such as Poetry.org, are also including videos of poets reading and/or discussing their work.
For less contemporary poets, video is still an option to enhance connections to poetry. For example, I found a multitude of YouTube videos somehow tied to the poetry of Langston Hughes. I especially enjoyed watching actor Danny Glover read Langston’s “Ballad of Roosevelt.”
Encourage students to interpret poetry through art!
TeachingBooks.net has recently begun recording audio clips with illustrators of children’s books. We ask the illustrators to choose a page and speak about their thought processes and media choices when illustrating the text on that page. Hearing directly from illustrators who are working to create imagery of poems is fascinating.
For example, listen to illustrator and photographer Charles R. Smith, Jr. describe his approach and the challenges he faced in taking the photos to illustrate Langston Hughes’ poem, “My People.”
As an activity, imagine asking students to create an illustration for all or part of a selected poem.
Charles R. Smith, Jr. shares how he illustrated the book My People (S&S, 2009).
Socially network with poets and poetry!
Twitter updates and Facebook statuses are a great place to share poetry and to disseminate online poetry resources. And, many poets have Facebook fan pages, including Langston Hughes, where individuals can connect to discuss and analyze the work of their favorite poets and share news of poetry events. On Langston’s discussion board, for example, fans post about their favorite Langston Hughes poem.
And an image from a Twitter search for “Langston Hughes”:
Here’s the mobile site version of Langston’s amazing poem “Dream Variations.” It’s a pared down version of the site to make for easy reading on your mobile phone if it has web browsing capabilities.
There are also poetry iPhone applications, such as the free Poem Flow.
Put ’em in your pocket!
April 29th, 2010 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. You can find many great poetry resources and activities to celebrate the day here. Essentially, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages creative ways to integrate poetry into your daily life, many of which advocate for the use of technology in creative ways. Some ideas include, “add a poem to your email footer” and “post a poem on your blog or social networking page.”
Other ideas are “offline” strategies, such as “post pocket-sized verses in public places” and “start a street team to pass out poems in your community.” Sounds like fun! Which Langston Hughes poem will you put in your pocket?
What strategies do you have for bringing poetry and poets to life?
Posted by Danika Brubaker, MLS, Web 2.0 Content Producer