by Franny Choi
Photo by Graham Cotten
Workshop Title: Detachment
Have the students discuss a variety of issues that they feel “distant” or “disassociated” from. Give them several minutes to come up with these issues before they hold this conversation.
Read the poem “Quarantine” with your students. Have them pay particular attention to the speaker’s feelings of “detachment,” what she feels detached from, and why she feels detached from those issues.
Now discuss the unique way in which the poem is written. Then try to determine why it’s written in such a manner.
Read the exemplar essay to illustrate the reasoning behind the way she structures her poem and phrasing in it.
Tell the students that they are going to write a poem in the same manner, using stilted phrases to illustrate their feelings of detachment from a certain issue.
When the students are done, have them share their poems with one another.
Area of Focus: Structure (Syntax)
If your students are not aware of how the “structure’ of a poem affects its meaning – particularly the syntactical elements – review the introductory lesson.
Read the poem “Quarantine” aloud to the students, but do not physically share the text with them; simply read it to them. Before you read it, tell them to pay attention to the general structure of the poem, how it sounds when read aloud.
Have the students, on their own sheets of paper, compose a short poem in a style similar to “Quarantine.” Only give them 5 to 10 minutes to do so. Then share their poems aloud and have them briefly talk about the similarities in structure between them.
Now that the students have recognized the general syntactical pattern of the poem, they should be ready to analyze it. Have them open the following document to complete the assignment. Directions are provided at the top of the page.
Have the students share their responses with the class, discussing how Choi’s syntax contributes to her message.
Share the exemplar essay when they are done with their discussion.
- Structure (Syntax)
- Death / Grief
- Environment / Environmental Justice
- Selection of Detail
- Structure (Syntax)