by Abel Meeropol
Workshop Title: Protest
Start by watching the embedded video, a history of poem/song “Strange Fruit.” Discuss the nature of the song/poem and what makes it so haunting and poignant.
*The video is a bit long, so you may want to consider paring it down if you are under a time constraint.
Say, “Take some time to think of some issues that are currently commonplace or were “common” in practice in the past, like the subject matter of that in “Strange Fruit,” that are clearly acts of hate or prejudice, acts worthy of condemnation. When you’ve come up with your list, choose one, then write down everything that was wrong with it, all the reasons why it was such a heinous atrocity.” Then give your students 5-10 minutes to brainstorm.
Have your students write a poem similar to “Strange Fruit” that acts as a protest poem, one in which they condemn an act (either past or present) that is inhumane on many different levels.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Sound Devices
If your students are not familiar with the concept of “sound devices,” go through the introductory lesson.
Start by watching Billie Holiday’s rendition of “Strange Fruit.” Then discuss the haunting nature of the poem/song. Prompt your students to think about the lyrics and ask them to discuss which ones contributed most to the shocking nature of the poem.
Have your students open up the following Google Jamboard and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to go through the poem, identify the sound devices, and discuss how each of those devices contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole.
*You may either force your students to make a copy of the Jamboard or simply duplicate the first slide enough times for your whole class to work on it.
Have your students share their responses with one another when they are done. Then share the exemplar essay.
- Sound Devices
- Criminal Justice
- Death / Grief
- Police Brutality / Profiling
- Race / Ethnicity / Racism
- Social Movements / Protest
- Figurative Language
- Selection of Detail
- Sound Devices
- Structure (Rhyme Scheme)