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

Alternate Activity 2: The Spoken Word

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Provide books, handouts, and other resources to allow participants a choice of poems for the activity (see Find Out More for suggestions)

Preparation for Activity

  • Write on newsprint:
    • What do you think the poem is about?
    • How does it make you feel?
    • How does hearing the poem enhance its meaning?
  • Be prepared to divide the group into pairs or small groups.

Description of Activity

Participants take turns reading a poem aloud to a partner or a small group. After each reading, the listeners provide feedback on the "performance." When the exercise is finished, participants gather for a large-group discussion.

Have youths form pairs or small groups, and explain the exercise:

  • Take a few minutes to find a poem to read aloud. Each of you can read a poem of your choice or everyone in your group can read the same poem in his/her own way.
  • First reader: Practice your poem quietly to yourself, and then read your poem aloud to the other(s).
  • Listener(s): Respond to the reading with answers to the following questions (on the newsprint):
  • What do you think the poem is about?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • How does hearing the poem enhance its meaning? Its power?
  • Repeat the process until each member of your group has had a chance to read.

When the exercise is finished, gather the entire group and lead a discussion based on the following questions:

  • Did the poems that members of your group chose seem to have been written more for the eye or for the ear? Why do you think so?
  • Do certain words jump out at you when you hear a poem? By contrast, what makes you notice certain words when you read a poem to yourself?
  • In what ways might reading a poem aloud resemble acting in a play? Does it matter whether or not the reader is the author? Explain.
  • Knowing that a poem of yours will be read aloud, what writing techniques might you use when you compose the poem? What characteristics or features might you avoid when you write the poem?