ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
In the beginning was the poem, and the poem was with the student, and the poem was the student. As thrilling as that moment can be – the inception of the poem within its breathing vessel – the moments after can be daunting and tedious when the student sits before the blank page and must write. Or worse, when the student sits, a blank page is put before them, and they are told to write.
Poetry anxiety is woven into our schools. Poetry is often presented in the classroom through a poetry unit – or, at the least, an add-on to support whatever focus of time, period, or movement that is at the center of the actual unit. An unfortunate impact of this trend is that students often understand poetry as a niche-writing specialty – a form that exists outside of more pragmatic modes such as technical writing or the essay. This pattern leaves many of us to view the secrets of poetry as a mystery – some magic that the real poets keep bottled up in their basements. We can combat this pattern by offering the tools, strategies, and conventions of poetry in isolation – arming students with a playbook. Just as we teach the persuasive essay and expository essay in different lessons – each demanding their own unique organizational patterns, we can teach how to access the tools that fuel metaphor and simile in different lessons. Hyperbole. The shout out. Where I’m from. Allusion. Line breaks. Epistolary forms. Persona. When you hear the word. Diction. Alliteration. The Battle. Odes. Pronouns. Syntax. In this workshop, we will discuss curriculum organizational models, the tools to build your own curriculum, ideas for scaffolding, and best practices in support of teaching poetic conventions in isolation to build student confidence while also ensuring focused nuanced writing (rather than defaulting to rhythmic monologue/ diary entries).
ABOUT THE FACILITATOR
Travis M. Kiger is the Writing Studio Coordinator at Keiser University-Tampa and teaches Nonfiction and a Creative Writing Capstone at Southern New Hampshire University. He has worked in education since 2004, living other professional lives as Managing Director of a theater company dedicated to promoting non-violent conflict resolution and responsible activism to under-served teens, Executive Director of a non-profit professional theater company, writer for the LSU AgCenter Diversity Initiative, competitive academic debate coach, high school English teacher, and semi-finalist in the 2006 National Poetry Slam. His essays about family, culture, and pedagogy have been published in Cleaver Magazine, Hobart, Bull Men’s Fiction, Bridge Eight, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, The Good Men Project, Louisiana Literature, Crack the Spine, and pioneertown among others. He has also co-authored two communication textbooks, including the Interpretation of Literature text for the National Speech & Debate Association. He dislikes systemic oppression, though loves the Oxford Comma.
ABOUT THE SERIES
The bluapple Poetry Network’s Educator’s Studio is a free series of workshops and discussions dedicated to providing teachers of writing and the arts with resources, concepts, and lesson plans that can be utilized in their classrooms, after school clubs, and other projects that inspire youth through poetry. Guest facilitators from Florida and across the country will guide participants through the monthly series.