Teaching Presentation: Marianne Moore “Poetry”

Sorry this has taken me a few days to get up. I have to say first off that I really enjoyed “teaching” everyone. It is nice to have a group of students who listen and actively participate—and don’t stair at you blankly when you are talking. I know everyone has said that but what a change of pace!
And again like everyone, I was nervous. It isn’t often that you get to teach other experts and I was very afraid I would say something that turned out not to be true. All in all I feel like the presentation went very smoothly and it was a lot of fun to hear the poems that were read. I wish everyone had shared. I guess in my own classroom I will get to read all of them!
One thing I thought was interesting was that I accidently self edited and skipped a portion of my lesson plan. I wanted students to compare a traditional poem, something along the lines of Shakespeare, to the Marianne Moore poem. I dropped it from my presentation though and I think it worked out really well without that portion. It may have been too repetitive for my students or confusing to compare the two poems and I think the lesson at least pacing wise worked well without that section. Perhaps it is something I could go back to or add in if it seemed like students were having difficulty grasping the lesson.
I guess that is one of the things I enjoy about teaching—it is always different. I think every lesson changes depending on the class, the knowledge level, or the weather outside! I like having to think on my feet.
I did enjoy doing this run through and I can’t wait to see what everyone else puts together.

5 thoughts on “Teaching Presentation: Marianne Moore “Poetry”

  1. toddkelly

    I liked your presentation and Moore’s poem. The only thing I would point out is that the Pinsky reading of the poem was very difficult to understand. It was not very loud and the audio was garbled. Also, in my experience high school students are easily confused and having a different poet (especially a male) read Moore’s poem might lead to some issues down the road. I’m not saying we need to coddle them, it is just that I know I hate it when some little misunderstanding leads my classes astray.

    1. Professor Sample

      Interesting point, Todd. The audio volume is a technical problem that could easily be solved, but the gender confusion poses more challenges. I wonder if we could turn it into a “teachable moment,” as Pinksy reading Moore raises all sorts of questions about voice and tone. It’d be even better to have a second or third person reading the poem. Each reading might emphasize different aspects of the poem and the whole exercise might illustrate the fluidity of poetic meaning.

  2. Lindsay

    I agree that there were pros and cons to using the audio recording of the poem. First, I do think that for me, it was good to first listen to the poem without looking at the poem. You could really hear the difference between the “professional” reading of the poem and the way we as a class read the poem during the jump-in reading. Once we were given the poem to read out loud as a class, it was clear that we were all a little unsure of where to stop reading and where to let the next person jump in. For me, this was a great learning moment, because it made me focus on the interesting ways Moore was using form in the poem. The con, as Todd mentioned, was that the audio recording wasn’t the best quality and I had to really concentrate at times in order to hear what the speaker was saying. I just worry that high school students wouldn’t put that effort in.

    Also, I really loved the found poetry assignment. I think it’s a great way to get students to be creative. I had an English teacher in high school who had us do found poetry with Shakespeare and I remember the class really getting into it and having fun with it. Any assignment that gets students to be creative and engaged and excited is a successful assignment in my book. Great job overall!

  3. afaye

    I’m with Lindsay, the found poetry assignment is a great fit! I also really like the idea of having students bring in their found material (magazines they already enjoy) without knowing what they’re expected to do with the material. With the assignment, and this was probably just me, I was a little confused on how much should be pulled from the books and how much material was to be supplied by me. Was this like the surrealist found poetry in _Textbook_ where everything was found or where we trying to stay closer to the Moore model? However, this ‘difficulty’ was a really good learning moment, though, because it drew me back to Moore’s poem and focused me on how much of her poem was ‘found’ and if I could even identify what was found or not. Was it only the quoted material or did her observations on nature actually come from a science book or do those moments count as ‘found’ because she ‘found’ them outside? I think this assignment could lead to such an engaging discussion if you open it up for some out of the box questions.

    Good choice of poems! Modernist poetry is hard and this is an accessible introduction for students who may share the same negative repertoire on poetry. Thanks for a thoughtful presentation!

  4. Susan

    I love Marianne Moore, so I am glad you choose her. She can be especially difficult (I took a class last semester for grad school that covered Moore); however, I think you stayed grade level appropriate with your lesson plan. The free write on “what is poetry?” and “how does it make you feel?” worked well with the poem. The “difficulty” discussion in groups is successful. I think it would be important to ask students why they think the author (who is obviously a poet) begins with “I, too, dislike it”.

    At first, I was against the “popcorn reading” because Moore’s line breaks are so specific and meant to be visual, while she has every intention of reading through each line (not stopping at enjambment) as Pinsky read. However, I see your point was to differentiate between the visual and how the poem is read, but I am not sure if the class understood that point or if I had an upper hand in knowing what you were getting at because I have studied Moore. She does employ line integrity often through enjambment, so maybe a “pointing” activity could get this across so lines like “nor is it valid”, “unintelligible,” “result is not poetry” stand out and make sense on their own. Your idea on creating a “found language” poem, or collaging as Moore so often does, with magazines seems like a fantastic idea that is very relevant to Moore’s process and style of writing.

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