Identity and Self-Discovery through Poetry

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Lesson Introduction: 

This lesson is inspired by Denise Clark’s work with her senior English students at Vancouver Technical Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia.

People often write about what they know best, and in many cases, writers give us insight into their own worlds through their poetry. This lesson aims to have students use questioning to explore the theme of identity in poetry. Students will see that they can connect their own personal experiences, passions, and questions about identity in order to better understand and respond to poetry, and to eventually write poems themselves.

Learning Objectives: 

In this lesson, students will have opportunities to:

  • Read, discuss, and respond to poems.
  • Visualize and reflect on elements of their own identities to better understand poetry.
  • Deepen their ability to question texts.
  • Work individually and in groups to extend their understanding of texts.
Materials and Resources: 

To teach this lesson, you will need:

  • Suggested poems from the Poetry In Voice anthology:

Danse Russe” by William Carlos Williams

Introduction to Poetry” by Billy Collins

Plenty” by Kevin Connolly

Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Saguaro” by Brenda Hillman

Self-Portrait” by Robert Creeley

The New Experience” by Suzanne Buffam

The Powwow at the End of the World” by Sherman Alexie

  • Paper: 8.5x11 inches and poster size
  • Markers
  • Enlarged copies of three to four poems for group work


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Poetry In Voice is a charitable organization that encourages Canadian students to fall in love with poetry through reading, writing, and recitation. All of our resources are available online for free. You may also use our resources if you reside outside of Canada.