Teaching Concrete & Dramatic Poetry: Teaching Ideas

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I heard whimpering down the hall. It was coming from Mr. Gradenomor’s classroom. I poked my head inside and saw Mr. Gradenomor in the fetal position under his desk. He was covered by student papers. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Can’t read another horrible poem…” he gasped.

I picked a paper up and read a student poem:

Your love is like the trees

floating in the breeze

Your love is like a dove

It fits me like a glove

Too bad I have to kill this bird

On my head it dropped a turd.

I had to help my colleague. I gave him some advise on teaching dramatic poetry and concrete poetry. I think I’ll share those teaching ideas with you.

Teaching Dramatic & Concrete Poetry

In dramatic poetry the speaker is clearly somebody other than the poet. Dramatic poetry often contains dialogue and is sometimes written in the form of a play. This includes dramatic monologues (think Shakespeare). Other examples include “The Runaway” by Robert Frost, “Incident in a Rose Garden” by Donald Justice, “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning, and anything written by Shakespeare.

Teaching Ideas

  1. Read and discuss several Shakespearean monologues. Have students write one of their own or update the language in one.
  2. Read a short story and convert it into a dramatic poem.
  3. Write a letter to yourself from a famous person. Convert the letter into a poem pretending it’s the actual person who wrote the letter.

Concrete poetry is an excellent way to teach students the relationship between structure and content. In a concrete poem the shape of the poem suggests the poem’s meaning or subject. Examples of include “A Christmas Tree” by William Burford and “Pendulum” by John Updike.

Teaching Ideas

  1. Draw a picture of an ordinary object such as an umbrella, a pencil, an Ipod, or a cell phone. Next to it write a description. Convert the description into concrete poetry shaped like the picture. Make sure the words express meaning as a poem should.
  2. Make a list of various types of people. Write concrete poetry describing that person.

This post is part of the series: Writing Poetry Lesson Plans

Help students write poems that won’t make you want to rip off your fingernails with pliers.

  1. Introduction to Poetry: Narrative and Lyric Poetry Defined
  2. Writing Poetry Lesson Plans: Meter in Poetry
  3. Teaching Different Types of Poetry: Concrete & Dramatic
  4. Understanding Tone in Poetry
  5. Learn About Famous Poets at Poets.org