Language Arts Challenge
Modern Poetry Visualized
Submission Due Date: April 17, 2020
Designed for Middle and High School Students
Table of Contents
Range of Activities
In an article in Harper’s Magazine in 2013 entitled, ‘Poetry Slam, or the Decline of the American Verse,’ author Mark Edmundson details the three things that he believes all serious poets should possess:
First, the writer must have something of a gift: she must be able to make music, command metaphors, compress sense, write melodiously when the situation demands and gratingly when need be. She must be versed in irony; she must have control of tone. But there is more – a second requirement. She must also have something to say. There must be some region of her experience that has transfixed her and that she feels compelled to put into words and illuminate. She must burn to attack some issue, must want to unbind a knot, tighten it, or maybe send a blade directly through its core.
Given these powers – the power of expression and the power to find a theme – the poet still must add ambition. She must be willing to write for her readers. She must be willing to articulate the possibility that what is true for her is true for all. When these three qualities—lyric gift; a serious theme, passionately addressed; real ambition (which one might also call courage)—come together, the results can be luminous.
At the end of this Challenge are three poems recently published in one of the country’s most esteemed literary journals, The Kenyon Review. Each poem offers up a visceral vision that, like many quality poems, can be interpreted and enjoyed on a universal and personal level.
Choose one poem: study it, debate it, and find its lyricism, meaning and ambition. Then, create a visual video interpretation of your select poem to accompany a recitation of the poem. The visual content of the video is up to the team. It can be moving picture; a montage of stills; shots of the poem’s reader; all of the above – there are no boundaries to the visual interpretation.
Music may be used to underscore your work.
Of course, this Challenge can be done with any modern poetry, but for comparative purposes, we recommend choosing amongst the three provided.
- Modern Poetry Digital Story (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Informal Poem Analysis (at teacher’s discretion)
- Storyboard (at teacher’s discretion)
Assumptions and Logistics
Time Frame– We recommend that this Meridian Stories Competition takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
Length– All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
Slate– All media work must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
Submissions– Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
Teacher Reviews– All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the media work.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator– While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the media. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.
Digital Rules/Literacy– We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Resources Center section of the site for guidance.
Location– Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the story you are trying to tell.
Collaboration– We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
- Below is a suggested breakdown for the students’ work.
During Phase I, student teams will:
- Select your poem.
- Analyze the poem.
- Once your team has selected the poem, the best way for your team to explore its meaning is to talk about it. A good way to begin that discussion is to have each team member explain what the poem means to them.
- Once everyone’s interpretation is on the table, a line-by-line analysis will reveal further layers of meaning.
- If it’s helpful, follow the guidelines laid out above: look for the poem’s lyricism, meaning and ambition.
- Interrupt your discussion with a reading of the poem aloud: hearing it in someone else’s voice can turn up new moments of meaning or reveal new interpretations.
- Create a list of ideas, images and themes that emerge from your team discussion. Organize this list into a fluid analysis of the poem that reveals your team’s range of understanding of the poem’s meaning and ambition. This analysis can help to inform your visual interpretation of the poem.
- Teacher’s Option: Informal Poem Analysis– Teachers may require that teams hand in this informal analysis.
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Visualize the poem
- Once your team has a strong sense of what the words mean to you; the places in the poem where meaning shifts; the words that excite; and the overall trajectory of the poem, it’s time to consider what this poem looks like. Discuss with your team the various visions of each team member, working your way toward a unified visual narrative.
- Create a storyboard – Storyboarding allows you to see the flow of the images that you have chosen. It also allows you to match up images to the words of the poem, providing your team with a sense of movement and pace.
- Teacher’s Option: Storyboard– Teachers may require that teams hand in their storyboard.
- Pre-produce the video:
- Scout locations for shooting (if this is being shot on location)
- Create costumes, props and other set pieces, as needed.
- Prepare the logistics for the actual shooting of the video.
- Decide how the poem is going to be recorded. One voice? Multiple voices? With musical accompaniment? Slowly, with pauses, or straight through?
During Phase III, student teams will:
- Record the poem – When creating video that is tied closely to a soundtrack – spoken word or musical – it is often best to record the soundtrack first. This can be used, in playback mode, to guide the visual shooting. Often producers just record a ‘scratch track’ which is a rough recording for these purposes, and then record a final track after the whole video has been shot and edited.
- Shoot the video.
- Edit the video, adding stills and graphics as desired.
- Post-produce the video, adding music and sound effects as desired.
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital stories provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit shareyourlearning.org.
Media Support Resources
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams.
1. Media Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four-minute videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Meridian Resource Collection – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity and production.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Challenge include:
|Media Innovators and Artists||Meridian Resource Collection|
|On Photography – Michael Kolster
On Movement and Rhythm in Video – Charlotte Griffin
On Sound Design – Chris Watkinson
On Editing– Tom Pierce
| “Creating Storyboards, Framing a Shot”
“Sound Recording Basics”
“Royalty Free Music”
“Producing: Time Management”
Evaluation Rubric – Modern Poetry Visualized
|Poetic Language||Final piece reflects a clear and nuanced understanding of the poet’s use of language|
|Poetic Content||Final piece reflects a substantive and enriching exploration of the poem’s content|
|Visual Choices||The visualization of the poem adds meaning to our understanding of the poem|
|Poem Recitation||The recitation of the poem dramatically enhances our understanding of and engagement with the poem|
|Visual Editing||The editing of imagery – still or moving – was visually arresting, creatively coherent and provocative|
|Sound Design||The mix of music, voice and sound effects greatly enhances our engagement with the video|
|21ST CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (teachers only)|
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
- What is modern poetry and why is it meaningful?
- How has your analysis and consequent interpretation of modern poetry changed your understanding of the power, versatility and beauty of poetic language?
- How does the visual/audio interpretation of a piece of writing change its meaning? What is the nature of that change?
- Conversely, in moving from a written text to a visual interpretation, what elements of the story have you been able to communicate more effectively? Which elements less effectively?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- The student will be exposed to samples of current modern poetry and its role in our current culture.
- The student will have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the power, versatility and beauty of poetic language.
- The student will interpret his/her poem as a visual and aural work, exploring how meaning changes when media are combined.
- The student will develop an understanding of the communicative strengths and weaknesses of text vs. video; of words vs. images.
- The student will utilize key 21stcentury skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating poetic content into a visual story.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21stcentury skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
Common Core Curricular Correlations
The Modern Poetry Visualized Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the CommonCore Curricular Standards – English Language Arts. Below pleasefind the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts Standards
Key Ideas and Details
|Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.||Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.||Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.|
Craft and Structure
|Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.||Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.||Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one- on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and use
|Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.||Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.||Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 11–12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.|
The Elm Tree
By Jennifer Grotz (Kenyon Review, Summer 2013, Volume XXXV)
I look up, and there it is, a Gothic bloom, frozen explosion
sharp against the sky. It’s going to come down, but the poem
happens just before that. The poem loves the moment just before,
like the sculptor loved David, twisted with his loaded slingshot.
What will be flung are shards of shattered windowpane,
as if the stars had fallen and asked we pick them from our hair.
Last night the sky turned the color of thinning smoke
and rain came fierce upon the roofs like urgent voices
calling to the tiny wet dresses of the leaves. I look up:
a hundred-year-old elm can bear an enormous amount,
but it’s the saturated ground that will fail. The poem knows
every moment holds more meaning than can be expressed,
pauses here to consider. After it falls, which it is just about to do,
there will be no music, no whistle through wet branches, no wind
flinging its heavy velvet cloth. And the poem will be finished.
What is a poem, then? It’s a question, a very attentive form of waiting:
if only death is certain, says the poem, but
the moment of death is uncertain, then what should you do?
Jennifer Grotz is the author of The Needle and Cusp and translator from French of Patrice de La Tour du Pin’s Psalms of All My Days. She teaches at the University of Rochester and serves as assistant director of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Just off the Road near Lynchburg, Virginia
By Rachel Zucker (Kenyon Review, Summer 2013, Volume XXXV)
John says, James Wrights says— [something about
how a poet writing about the landscape is
always writing about himself] —I’m listening
but also standing on a bridge over railroad tracks
& watching some sort of woodchuck or muskrat
or groundhog scurry in & out of the hilly underbrush
so not listening closely Yeah I say It’s beautiful here
but I was writing city poems so. . . how can I explain
to John I don’t believe he exists don’t believe
in Virginia or these horses or houses that tractor
lawnmower small mammal burrowing it is too
incredulous such simultaneous lives I’m not sure
the Earth is round can’t perceive that & the hills
of Virginia mean I can’t see where I am except
right here Old mountains Old trees, is what Laurel
said when I asked her why I love this landscape
even though I don’t believe it exists even when
I’m standing in it John I say I think James Wright
is full of **it but I don’t say the not even
as a joke not even over the phone I want to say
on this first day of spring our bodies will not
break into blossom I want to tell John I don’t
believe in the bucolic or the pastoral I can’t
believe it’s possible to waste my life.
Rachel Zucker is the author of several poetry collections, including Museum of Accidents(2009), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and named one of the best poetry books of the year by Publishers Weekly; The Last Clear Narrative(2004); and Eating in the Underworld(2003).
By J. Allyn Rosser(Kenyon Review, Spring 2012, Volume XXXIV)
Chance had brought the six of us close
for a few weeks, close enough for liking,
unstrangered, and would scatter us the next day
across the wintering continent,
zipping up our hearts and waving
with gloves on, breath fogging our last sight
of each other as we hoisted
luggage jammed with limitations
(Patrick would live through July)
into the trunks of idling cars.
Perhaps it was for this reason,
our sense of precarious communion,
that when the table began to shake
we all instinctively reached out
and held hands, the way they do
at séances, and laughed out
an incongruous, sweet laughter
like children getting away with something,
our fear muted by our distance
from the fault that, once roused,
had shifted everything in the world
but only slightly, an inaudible rumble
stirring the guts of our existence
as it tickled the candle flames,
spangled the moment of wine
balanced on its fragile stem,
jigged the chairs and table legs,
and tingled through bootsoles.
Shock and odd pleasure lay in
how sharply and simultaneously
and consciously aware we were
of our heightened awareness
of each other and our transience.
For once there was no distraction:
no lust; no self-conscious adrenaline;
none of the spiritual glassiness
that settles over assembled mourners.
This was just the grave world
catching us off guard –
grabbing each of us by both shoulders
and giving a shake, saying only
Here. Now. Take a good look.
Allyn Rosser’s most recent book of poems is Foiled Again. She teaches at Ohio University, where she edits the New Ohio Review.