by Richard Blanco
Workshop Title: Shaving
Say, “Try to be as philosophical as you can with your responses. What can the act of “shaving” teach us about life?” Then give your students time to discuss.
Read “Shaving” by Richard Blanco. When you’re done, briefly discuss the speaker’s thoughts and feelings toward the ritual of shaving. How does he feel? What does the act remind him of?
Tell your students to think of some other “mundane” acts that give them insight about life, or acts that conjure images or memories of something from their past.
Ask your students to compose a poem similar in sentiment to “Shaving” in which they express their thoughts, feelings, memories, etc. that arise from a seemingly mundane, ordinary act.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Diction
If your students are not familiar with the concept of “diction,” go through the introductory lesson.
Start by showing your students the following scene from Pixar’s Soul. When the scene is over, simply ask them about the scene. What is happening? How does the character feel? What images or sounds contribute to these feelings? What is the general tone of the piece?
Read “Shaving” by Richard Blanco. When you finish reading, ask your students the same set of questions. What is happening? How does the speaker feel? What images or sounds contribute to these feelings? What is the general tone of the piece?
Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to have to focus on the diction of the piece and discuss how three words (from each individual stanza) contribute to the meaning of the work as a whole. Then give your students time to work.
When your students are done, go over their responses, stanza by stanza. Have them share their three words, their reasoning why they chose those words, and their responses explaining why they’re significant to Blanco’s message.
- Body / Body Image
- Creativity / Imagination / Writing
- Death / Grief
- Health / Health Care / Illness
- Figurative Language
- Selection of Detail
- Structure (Syntax)
- Death or Dying