Tapestry of Faith: Exploring Our Values Through Poetry: A Program for High School Youth

Activity 2: Speaking Our Own Words

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Pencils or pens and journals
  • Optional: Computers and printers

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide how much time you can give participants for writing and be sure to have a clock on hand. Reserve several minutes at the end of this activity so that everyone has a chance to read his/her work aloud to another participant.

Description of Activity

Participants craft their own poetry with special attention to how the poem will sound when performed aloud.

Explain that participants will have some time in the workshop to write poetry of their own; tell them how much time they will have to write. Remind them that they can also work on their poems at home.

Tell youth that, unlike many poetry exercises in which participants write poems for their own satisfaction, they WILL be asked in this case to read their poem(s) aloud to the group. Participants should craft their poems with attention to how they will perform the poem and how it will sound. Reassure participants who might be uncomfortable with the thought of reading their poetry to an audience that only those who wish to read aloud will do so. Others will have an opportunity to participate in the Poetry Slam in other ways that you will discuss later.

Distribute journals and pencils or assign computer workspace to participants. Invite participants to begin working on a poem. Offer a free-writing exercise to youth who want help getting started. Have these participants write, "I want you to know... " and keep writing from there. After three or four minutes, provide a second sentence starter: "It hurts when... " Finally, give this sentence starter: "I feel better when... "

Give the group a five-minute warning when their writing time is almost up. When participants are finished writing, organize them into pairs or groups of three and invite them to read their work aloud to one another. Remind participants that they always have the right to pass if they would rather not read their poetry aloud.