not an elegy for Mike Brown
by Danez Smith
Photo by Tabia Yapp
Workshop Title: Disheartened
Ask the students, “What is something that never changes? Why doesn’t it change? And how do you feel about it?”
Watch the embedded video about the context behind the poem they are about to read. Then discuss.
Read “not an elegy for Mike Brown.” Then discuss the poem with your students.
Have the students use the poem as a mentor text in which they write their own poem about something that “never changes.” Tell them to be deliberate with their word choice to express their tone.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Tone
If your students are not familiar with the concept of “tone,” review the introductory lesson.
Read “not an elegy for Mike Brown,” with your students, focusing on the speaker’s shifts in tone throughout the piece. Then discuss.
Have the students work in the following document to analyze the various tones in the poem. They may work in groups if they wish.
Discuss their responses. If time permits, share the exemplary essay.
- Criminal Justice
- Death / Grief
- Police Brutality / Profiling
- Race / Ethnicity / Racism
- Social Movements / Protest
- Figurative Language
- Selection of Detail