Tea, cookies, and hot chocolate filled tables amidst a dimmed room. Ms. Swain’s class sat around the tables, fingers poised to snap. The students had spent the better part of the month studying famous poets, particularly those who had written during the Civil Rights Movement. Langston Hughes, James Wheldon Johnson, among others had shaped the students’ vision of what poetry could communicate, the way it could propel a movement. The unit culminated in students writing their own poems. Now, it was time to show them off in a poetry slam.
“They worked really hard and showed a lot of depth,” Ms. Swain said. Surveying the cool ambience of the room, she noted “we really wanted to set the mood.”
One by one, students approached the front of the classroom and recited their verses. Students listened and nodded intently, snapping whenever a line struck a chord, and snapping vociferously at the end of the poem. Students showcased the ways in which poetry can capture thought and emotion that often eludes prose.
Life may not be a crystal stair, but we’re so proud of the ways Ms. Swain’s students keep climbing!