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All Readers: Poems about Identity
All Readers: Poems about Identity DISCUSSION GUIDE
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  The discussion guide below is divided into two parts: (1) IMITATION and (2) DISCUSSION exercises. Teachers can use the imitation exercises to encourage students to write their own poems or stories. The discussion exercises are intended to spark students to think about applying the ideas in the poems to their own lives. i
  29. Hair Tears The Sun Is On  
Write a praise poem to your hair. List all its qualities, whether you like them or not. Then write about them as good qualities, praising each quality for its own sake.

The class can discuss the qualities of hair and their anxieties about it. What is the significance of these anxieties? What does the term “good” hair mean? Isn’t all hair created equal? Are there standards of beauty that some people try to emulate that elevate one culture or ethnicity over another? Focus on accepting human differences as normal.

  28. Hair Prayer The Sun Is On  
Write a story or poem about those physical features you possess that you love the most. Write another one about the features you love the least. Now write a third story or poem praising the features you love least.

Class discussion can center on what happens when people obsessively focus on disliking certain physical aspects of themselves. How do these feelings affect your performance in school, your ability to socialize with others and make friends?

  31. Holding My Own For the Love of Life  
Make a list of all the negative things you’ve heard others say about you. Then write another poem that turns these negative comments into positive ones. For instance: “his head is too big,” can become “his head is full of big ideas.”

Very often negative comments from others represent envy (or misunderstanding), rather than criticism. Discuss how this could be so. The discussion could focus on what it means to be “different,” and on how important it is to understand and accept such “differences.”