One Pulse-One Poem

by Richard Blanco

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Conversation

Step 1

Have the students watch the embedded video to give them a bit of historical context to the poem they are about to read. Then read “One Pulse One Poem” by Richard Blanco. As they’re reading, have them pay attention to the tone Blanco creates throughout the piece.

Step 2

Discuss the tone in the poem. Ask them why he chooses to use that tone instead of one that is more aggressive.

Step 3

Have the students brainstorm a list of issues that people close to them still don’t fully understand or grasp.

Step 4

Have them write a poem in a style similar to “One Pulse-One Poem” in which they take a “gentle” approach – in the form of a conversation – to help somebody understand the true complexities of their chosen issue.

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: Diction

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “diction,” go through the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Before reading the poem, watch the following video to give them a bit of the historical context behind the poem.

Step 3

Read “One Pulse One Poem” by Richard Blanco. As they’re reading, have them pay particular attention to the specific words he uses to convey his point.

Step 4

Go over the concept of a Blackout Poem. Then tell them that they will be creating a “Blackout Poem” with Blanco’s poem to distill and analyze the specific choice of words he utilizes.

Step 5

The students may work in the following document. The instructions are provided at the top of the page and in the Blackout Poem tutorial.

Step 6

When the students are done, have them discuss their responses. Then share the exemplar essay so they can see if their responses are similar in scope.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Diction


  • Community / Culture
  • Death / Grief
  • Gender / Gender Identity / Gender Expression / Sexism
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure
  • Tone