Love Poem in the Black Field

by Ariana Benson

Photo by Floyd Benson

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Hope

Step 1

Ask your students, “Have there been times when you’ve essentially forced yourself to find hope? Or to remain optimistic? When was it? And how did you manage to not fall prey to the circumstances?” Briefly discuss.

Step 2

Read “Love Poem in the Black Field” by Ariana Benson. When you’re done, briefly discuss the perspective of the speaker throughout the piece. How do they see life despite their circumstances?

Step 3

Say, “Focus on a moment or time when things felt the most bleak. Then take some time to think of all the ways you were able to (or are able to presently) find hope when the circumstances felt dire. Jot down as many things as you can.” Then give them a few minutes to brainstorm.

Step 4

Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Love Poem in the Black Field” in which they express their feelings of hope despite challenging circumstances.

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: Various

Step 1

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.

Step 2

Start by showing your students the following video about one of the themes from The Shawshank Redemption. Then talk about the “hope” depicted in it. What does Andy do to maintain his humanity? And why does he do it?

Step 3

Now ask your students to open the following document. Read the introduction about Parchman Prison with them.

Step 4

Read the poem with them (hyperlinked in the document). As you are reading, ask your students to pay particular attention to the glimmers of hope the speaker finds, even in the bleakest of moments. When you are done reading, briefly discuss the piece.

Step 5

Go over the rest of the directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to analyze the ways the speaker finds hope, even in the bleakest of circumstances. When you’ve gone over the directions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, ask them to share their responses. Have them share the “objectively terrible” side of their evidence, then ask how the speaker is able to find hope in that moment.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Body / Body Image
  • Class
  • Community / Culture
  • Criminal Justice
  • Friendship
  • Health / Health Care / Illness
  • History
  • Joy
  • Labor / Work
  • Love
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Violence

Literary Tags

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

Content Warning

  • Racism or Racial Slurs