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

Alternate Activity 1: Poetry Out Loud

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Print-outs of the poems to be read aloud
  • Poetry anthologies suitable for youth (see Find Out More for suggestions)
  • Paper and pencils or computer and printer for writing during the workshop
  • Newsprint and markers

Preparation for Activity

  • Familiarize yourself with the poem(s) you will read aloud, so that you can deliver them smoothly. Be prepared to model a heartfelt performance of poetry.

Description of Activity

Participants listen to and watch the leader read poems aloud, read the printed text of the poems to themselves, and compare the experiences.

Before you read a poem aloud, ask participants to observe their own reactions as audience members and be prepared to share their responses at the end of the exercise.

Read a poem aloud. Then hand out the printed text of the poem and ask participants to read it silently to themselves. When they are finished reading, read the poem aloud a second time. Repeat the process for two to four different poems.

Using these questions as prompts, lead a discussion of how voiced poetry differs from poetry on the printed page:

  • How does hearing a poem in the presence of other people differ from reading it silently to yourself? Which did you prefer, and why?
  • Do certain kinds of poems lend themselves to reading aloud? What features does a poem need to be a good candidate for reading aloud?
  • Do certain words jump out at you when you listen to a poem? By contrast, what makes you notice certain words when you read a poem?
  • When someone reads or performs the poem aloud, what makes for good delivery of the poem? Is a highly dramatic rendering inherently better than a simple reading, or not? Does it depend on the poem?

Encourage participants to keep their observations about spoken poetry in mind as they prepare a Poetry Slam for an audience.