On Oct. 30, students in Windward’s 10th Grade Honors class were treated to a visit from local poet Douglas Manuel. On hand to perform and discuss his collection, Testify, Douglas also took time to teach students how to write and revise their own poetry. Douglas’ work focuses on the intersection of race and gender in his own life, and how his identity contrasts with the ways people commonly perceive him or the expectations they hold for him. He began by performing his "handshake" poem, a poem that introduces readers to a poet, instructing them on how to read a poet's work and how to catch the balls being juggled in different lines of each poem.
Students then asked questions about Douglas's word choices and pauses, and in doing so learned how a poem compresses and expands time, space, and meaning. Douglas also shared an earlier and later version of one of his poems to help students visualize how poems are revised, and to demonstrate his revision practice. Like detectives, students were tasked to read through each version, identify the differences between them, and then hypothesize as to why the changes were made. Douglas listened to their ideas and responded by sharing strategies for how he finds places in his poems to do the work of compressing or expanding. As students complete their own poetry unit and craft original compositions throughout the year, they will revise their work applying the same strategies.
Thank you to Douglas for sharing his stories and processes with our students! And thanks to Emily Miner, Brendan Constantine, and Suzie Hanrahan for facilitating the visit. For more on Douglas, visit his website.