THEME: What is your inspiration?
1. The students will examine an ordinary object blindfolded.
2. The students —with out the sense of sight—should be able to describe the object with their other four senses.
3. The students, with their blindfolds off should then verbally describe what the object looks like. The examination should occur as if the object were an object from space.
4. The students will write an individual poem which appeals to one or two of the senses.
5. The students will write an individual poem using individual objects which appeal to one or more of the senses.
6. The students will read William Carlos Williams’s poem entitled “This is Just to Say” and Andrew Salkey’s poem entitled “Sweet Mango.”
DISCUSSION: (20-30 minutes)
After handing out copies of the poems “This is Just to Say” and “Sweet Mango”, the students are to be given time to quietly read the poems to themselves and jot down any notes or questions that they may have about the poem. Allow the students who have been chosen to read these poems to stand up and read the poems to the class the way that they were practiced.
Tell the Students: William Carlos Williams’s poem is really an apology for some stolen plums, but it has the strange characteristic of making its readers feel hungry. Andrew Salkey’s poem “Sweet Mango” is about exile or the feeling of loneliness that we get for the things that we are accustomed to when we are away from home.
Ask: To what senses does the author appeal to make us feel hungry? Did he appeal to more than just our sense of taste? To which feelings do Andrew Salkey appeal? Through which senses does Salkey appeal to these feelings?
With the exception of two student helpers, each student should be blindfolded. The student helpers are each to be given two objects of similar size and shape. (Common, fresh kitchen herbs, because of the similarity in the size and shape of the leaves, and flavored tea out of the tea bag are good for this exercise because they appeal strongly to our senses of touch and smell. They are edible and if manipulated in the palm or between the fingers, they can be felt. While each student receives a sample, the teacher should be at the head of the class getting ready to record responses on a sensory chart.
Say: Please tell me words that you would use to describe what the object in your hand smells, tastes, feels and sounds like. Be creative. (Be prepared to read and write a sample sentence of your own out for the students.) Get your hands ready to speed write. When the chart is almost completely filled, ask the students to remove their blindfolds and to describe the object in their hand (using their eyes) as though it were something strange from outer space. (A small piece of sweet ripe mango might be appealing at the end of this lesson.)
Poetry Journal: (10 to 20 minutes)
Together with the students write a brief unrhymed collective poem on the chalkboard. Ask the students to use the poem notes which are on the chalkboard to create sentences for the poem. Do not push to use all five senses in one poem; often smell and taste do not lend themselves to the topic.
Poetry Journal: Day 2 (30 to 40 minutes)
Bring in a collection of objects from which the students can choose one to use their senses to discover. Remind students that they should look at this object as though it were from another planet and that they have had no prior experience with it or any thing of its kind. Encourage students to take notes on the object before writing about it. A half of an hour is probably enough time for this activity, but some writers will need more time to concentrate and to get their work of art just right.
Poetry Journal: Day 3 (15 to 20 minutes)
When you go away from home for the summer or stay a few nights at a friends house, the tastes of fruits and other foods associated with home are especially attractive. What food taste do you think you would miss most? Why? What associations does that taste have for you? Write your feelings in a poem. You may refer to “Sweet Mango” for help.
Essay... Of the two poems that you read in class, which did you like the most? What was it in the poem that appealed to you the most?