The Motionpoems Poetry Curriculum
Made for undergrad poetry writing classes—but designed to be adaptable for other levels, courses, and genres.
Rather than create a series of lessons that you must teach in a certain order, we’ve created a flexible series of lessons, some of which come with video interviews. You can teach these in a sequence of concept and craft lessons, or you can drop them into a syllabus that you’ve already designed at the appropriate time. It’s also possible, depending on classroom hours, to fill an entire semester with these lessons! If you’re interested in setting up a Skype session with one of our artists, email Saara to see if a virtual conversation is possible.
We plan to add more, depending on audience interest, so tell us what you think and check back often!
ANOMALY, PARADOX, & IRONY
The List Poem: Anomaly, Paradox, Irony & “Cigar Box Banjo,” a lesson plan by Janet Burroway that uses “Cigar Box Banjo” by poet Kim Addonizio and filmmaker Danny Madden.
Anaphora, Ritual, & “The Tao of the Black Plastic Comb,” a lesson plan by Saara Myrene Raappana that uses “The Tao of the Black Plastic Comb” by poet Glenis Redmond and filmmaker Irving Hillman.
BONUS: This lesson plan incorporates video interviews with Glenis Redmond and Irving Hillman. Find them here.
REPETITION, NEGATION, & IMPERATIVE
Repetition, Negation, & Imperative in “How Do You Raise a Black Child?” a lesson plan by Saara Myrene Raappana that uses “How Do You Raise a Black Child?” by poet Cortney Lamar Charleston and filmmaker Seyi Peter-Thomas. BONUS: This lesson plan incorporates a video interview with Seyi Peter-Thomas and a text interview with Cortney Lamar Charleston. Find them here and here, respectively.
Tone: “The Long Deployment” & “The Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter,” a lesson plan by Janet Borroway that uses “The Long Deployment” by poet Jehanne Dubrow/filmmaker Nicole McDonald and “The Mysterious Arrival of an Unusual Letter” by poet Mark Strand/filmmaker Scott Wenner.
Personal Myth & “Things I Carry Into the World,” a lesson plan by Saara Myrene Raappana that uses “Things I Carry Into the World” by poet Cynthia Manick and filmmakers Jamil McGinnis and Pat Heywood.
BONUS: This lesson plan incorporates a video interview with Cynthia Manick, Jamil McGinnis, Pat Heywood, and producer Claire McGirr. Find it here.
(The Right Kind of) Ambiguity & “The Blue Black Wet of Wood,” a lesson plan by Eric Doise that uses “The Blue Black Wet of Wood” by poet Carmen Gillespie and filmmaker Malik Vitthal.
BONUS: This lesson plan incorporates a video interview with Carmen Gillespie. Find it here.
Metaphor & “A Day at the Mall Reminds Me of America,” a lesson plan by Janet Burroway that uses “A Day at the Mall Reminds Me of America” by poet Sarah Blake and filmmaker Ayse Altinok.
Allusions! & “The Robots Are Coming,” a lesson plan by Eric Doise that uses “The Robots Are Coming” by poet Kyle Dargan and filmmaker Julia Iverson.
BONUS: This lesson incorporates a video interview with Kyle Dargan and Julia Iverson. Find it here.
Generating Ideas & “I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast,” a lesson plan by Saara Myrene Raappana that uses “I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast” by poet Melissa Studdard and filmmaker Dan Sickles.
The Motionpoems "How to Make Motionpoems" Curriculum
We’ve found that the process of making a motionpoem has numerous educational benefits. We’ve seen student filmmakers, regardless of their major, develop:
- a deepened, nuanced understanding, not only of the poem they’re adapting, but of poetry in general;
- skills in project management, video editing software, and artistic collaboration;
- functional, productive vocabularies centered around teamwork, collaboration, and audience;
- really cool motionpoems!
We’re making our “How To Make Motionpoems” curriculum available to you for your classrooms. These lessons, which can be accomplished in 4-6 weeks depending on class hours (maybe even less if you’re pressed for time), were developed for undergraduate, cross-disciplinary classrooms of poetry, film, and music majors, but can be easily adapted for your students regardless of their majors or education level. One middle school Language Arts class even managed to complete this unit in two weeks! Not sure how to do it? Email us for help!
- Read first: Notes for teachers.
- Day 1 Handout
- Motionpoems Best Practices
- Storyboard Template
- Phase 1 PowerPoint
- Phase 2 PowerPoint
- Phase 3 PowerPoint
- Phase 4 PowerPoint
- Phase 5 PowerPoint
Check out some motionpoems made by students here!
These educational materials were made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.