Check out these activities that combine song & music to celebrate National Poetry Month in April!

What exactly is poetry? My love of poetry was recently reignited by a webinar that I watched by Diego Ojedo that was amazing! Poetry is about art and expression: Merriam-Webster gives the following definition of “metrical writing.” Growing up, the educational system indoctrinates many students with ideas that poetry must take a very narrow form: that of Shakespeare, Dickinson, Whitman, etc. But what about other cultures (Hispanics, stand up!)? Or genres that use poetry as a base to build off of. For example, spoken word artists (Elizabeth Acevedo, I’m looking at you!)? And music? What could be more metrical than music? Think Martí’s famous Versos sencillos turning into Celia’s “Guantanamera”! Any rhythmic writing or oral storytelling, with or without music has poetic value. By broadening our term “poetry,” it becomes more accessible and inclusive for students. These poems may double for valuable in-class activities.

By accurately defining (or broadening) the term “poem,” many Black and Brown artists would become wordsmiths, and the cultural caché due to them would be appropriately awarded. Recognizing music, rap, spoken word, and other oral traditions as forms of poetry is also about recognizing the existence of geniuses around us.

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How can you use (musical) poetry in class?

After you identify which poem you want to use in class, brainstorm how you can utilize it in class. Here are some useful examples, especially for the earlier levels of Spanish (novice/intermediate):

  • Teach and identify literary devices
  • Link poems to popular songs (origins stories)
  • Link popular poems to respective countries to open a unit or spark curiosity
  • Practice reading internally and out loud to build verbal fluency
  • Serve as a guide for students to write their own poems, such as Haikus

Common literary devices to analyze in novice-intermediate classes:

  • Onomotopeya: onomatopoeia
  • Anáfora: repetition of words
  • Personificación: personification — giving human characteristics to an inanimate object
  • Estribillo: repetition of a line
  • Hipérbole: an exaggeration
  • Metáfora: a comparison with nouns (without the use of “como”)
  • Símil: a comparison using the word “como”

Examples of poems or “trocitos” that you can use in class to analyze

  1. Taking a look at the lyrics, ::cough:: poetry of Selena in Bidi Bidi Bom Bom! Here is a classic example of onomatopoeia, as represented by the beats of the singer’s heart. Check out my related FREEBIE HERE!

Students will learn tons w/ this Selena freebie!

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    2. A poem that I never knew (until I was in college) was the basis of such an iconic song, here we see the poetry-song connection strongly with Versos Sencillos & Guantanamera!