Once I have introduced the poetic elements this unit will focus on and students have identified these elements in rap lyrics such as "Dumb It Down" and "Disseshowedo" (lyrics already identified for using wordplay and rhyming), I will provide poems with examples of similar poetic elements.
For example, in Tupac's poem
In the Event of my Demise
, he says, "I will die before my time," which is an example of irony.
While irony is not playing out directly in this poem, we know Tupac did die before his time and Tupac having written this poem is quite ironic. Students will be able to quickly pick up on this irony, for they know Tupac's life story very well and many things that he rapped and wrote poetry about foreshadowed what would happen to him—he was shot and killed at the age of 25.
Also, in Kevin Young's poem
, he says, "…the doctor searches early for your heartbeat, peach pit, unripe plum–pulls out the world's worst boom box, a Mr. Microphone, to broadcast your mother's lifting belly."
These words are a great example of wordplay. Young is referring to the unborn baby as a peach pit and unripe plum. Then he creates a metaphor for the ultrasound his wife is undergoing—"the world's worst boom box, a Mr. Microphone." The metaphor makes sense and creates a clear picture for his audience. An ultrasound allows for parents-to-be to see an image of the unborn baby and hear his/her heartbeat. This metaphor makes the poem powerful and creative.