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

Faith In Action: Planning A Choral Reading

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: 8.5 x 11 inch paper and art materials for creating flyers
  • A box or basket to collect submissions

Description of Activity

Participants prepare to add a choral reading that will involve the congregation in the Poetry Slam. This long-term Faith in Action is composed of four activities: Planning a Choral Reading, Practicing the Choral Reading (Workshop 13), Performing the Choral Reading (Workshop 14), and the Choral Reading Review (Workshop 15).

Explain to participants that a choral reading takes place when a group or "chorus" of readers recites a written work. It is a unique way to perform a poem, and, in this activity, it is coupled with a unique way of creating a poem that involves the entire congregation.

In a choral reading of a poem, individuals may read a single word, line, or stanza independently or in unison. They may repeat particular portions of the poem. They might include music and/or movement. Answer any questions the group has about choral readings, and then decide if you will include one in your Poetry Slam. A choral reading can be an ideal way to include youth who may be shy about reading alone. It is not necessary to have everyone participate in the choral reading; if you have three or more interested youth, you can proceed.

One way to involve the congregation is to invite members to submit short poems to workshop participants. In Workshop 13, youths will use submitted works to craft a new, hybrid poem for the choral reading. You need to get the word out quickly that you are seeking submissions. You could hand out flyers immediately before or after the regular worship service, send out a congregation-wide e-mail, or appeal directly to a writers group if your congregation has one.

Decide whose e-mail address can be made available for submissions, and place a box for submissions in a convenient location at your congregation. You need submissions by the next workshop, so make sure the deadline is included in flyers and e-mail messages.

Decide who will collect the submissions. Also, decide whether you want to include copies of the original poems in your program. If so, get poets' permission to do so before the next workshop. Make sure each poet understands that bits and pieces of their poem will be used to create a hybrid poem and that some poems might be used more extensively than others. Explain that the choice of material used from each poem is not an indication of how much participants like or dislike a particular work; it only reflects how well the words fit into the new poem.

The Faith in Action in Workshop 13 leads you through the next steps of creating a hybrid poem and practicing the choral reading.