There are many ways to measure success of this unit. The two that I will focus on are their completed journals and a poetry slam to mark the end of the unit. At the end of the year each student will have their own journal, a song to themselves modeled after
The Journals of Dan Eldon
, or Walt Whitman, or their new favorite poet whoever he/she is, and of course their own original work.
Marc Kelly Smith who ran The Uptown Poetry Slam in Chicago for many years invented his own rules. His overall philosophy is " The performance of poetry is an art - just as much an art as the writing of it." Some of his rules are excellent as well as helpful. His basic feeling is that a slam is " a gift from one city to another. This is the philosophy behind my wanting to share our poems with other schools. Smith also says "the purpose of poetry is not to glorify the poet but rather to celebrate the community to which the poet belongs."
Since public speaking is a major component of my unit and the gift of being articulate is a precious one we will rehearse and learn to enunciate and speak clearly following the poetry slams rule that "No audience should be obligated to listen to the poet. It is the poet's obligation to communicate effectively, artfully, honestly, and professionally so as to compel the audience to listen."
This philosophy helps build an atmosphere of trust among its participants and helps teach our students the importance of hearing a poem. I strongly suggest showing the movie
. It is an incredible movie about a young drug dealer who turns his life around and discovers his inner life through poetry.
"Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you." Charlie Parker