I Don’t Know...
by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
Photo by Marcus Jackson
Workshop Title: Memory
Have your students respond to the line “I think I am breaking up with memory.” Then discuss.
Read “I Don’t Know Any Longer Why the Flags Are At Half-Staff” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. Then discuss his reasons for wanting to break up with memory. Have them try to provide evidence from the poem to support their responses.
Give your students some time to brainstorm and think of the reasons why they want to – or have wanted to – break up with memory. Give them between 5-10 minutes.
Have your students write a poem like “I Don’t Know Any Longer Why the Flags Are At Half-Staff” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib in which they convey their reasons for wanting to break up with their memories.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Various
This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: tone, figurative language, imagery, and structure (syntax).
Read “I Don’t Know Any Longer Why the Flags Are At Half-Staff” by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. When they’re done reading, discuss the poem. Start with the poet’s message. Then delve into the specific text that contributes to that message.
Have your students open the following document and read the directions with them. In short, they are going to have to develop a series of questions and answers about the poem. They may work in groups if they want. While the students are working, monitor their progress and save a few questions and answers to share with the class later.
When the students are done, share some of the saved responses and have the students attempt to answer the student created questions. You also have the option of putting some of the better questions into an online format (like Quizizz, Gimkit, etc.) and making a game of it at the end of the period or the following class.
If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.
- Community / Culture
- Criminal Justice
- Death / Grief
- Race / Ethnicity / Racism
- Figurative Language
- Structure (Syntax)