Listening To A White Man Play The Blues

by Silvia Curbelo

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Appropriation

Step 1

Watch the comedic bit from Roy Wood Jr.

Step 2

Read “Listening To A White Man Play The Blues” by Silvia Curbelo. When you’re done, briefly discuss how the comedic bit and the poem touch upon the same issue.

Step 3

Say, “Think of other ways another group of people have “appropriated” something from another group of people.” Then give them time to brainstorm.

Step 4

Have your students compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Listening To A White Man Play The Blues” in which they address the appropriation of an artform, style, culture, etc.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Figurative Language

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “figurative language,” go over the introductory lesson with them.

Step 2

Watch the following comedic bit from Roy Wood Jr. about black people and blues music.

Step 3

Read the title of the poem you’re going to discuss today, “Listening To A White Man Play The Blues.” Then ask your students why listening to a white man play the blues may be construed as offensive or insensitive.

Step 4

Read the poem by Silvia Curbelo. As you’re reading, ask your students to pay attention to the complex attitude the speaker holds toward “listening to a white man play the blues.” Then briefly discuss.

Step 5

Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to have to analyze the figurative language of the piece and identify its contribution to the meaning of the work as a whole. Then give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, have them share their work with one another.

Step 7

If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Figurative Language


  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Creativity / Imagination / Writing
  • Death / Grief
  • History
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying