Ash (cathubodva) wrote in thequestionclub,

Help me lesson plan (again)!

I'm doing an activity with my 11th grade American lit students about annotating poetry. The focus will be on characters, setting, tone, and author's word choice.

The poem I've chosen is Lineage by Margaret Walker.

My grandmothers were strong.
They followed plows and bent to toil.
They moved through fields sowing seed.
They touched earth and grain grew.
They were full of sturdiness and singing.
My grandmothers were strong.

My grandmothers are full of memories
Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay
With veins rolling roughly over quick hands
They have many clean words to say.
My grandmothers were strong.
Why am I not as they?

The rationale for this poem is:
1. It's short with simple vocabulary (my students read well below grade level, and since I'm just introducing this specific technique I don't want to overwhelm them!)
2. Characters and setting are really easy to describe
3. We're about to start reading Kindred by Octavia Butler, a time-travel novel where a young black woman is sent back in time and meets her ancestors (a white master and a black slave). There's a lot of conflict between how she is able to act as a young black woman in the 1970s versus in the 1830s, and I like the similar thematic elements in this poem.

So. My question: I'm looking for artwork that I can use in a warm up in the same way - lots of information to pick out about the characters, setting, and tone of the piece, that is hopefully connected thematically to womanhood, ancestors, slavery, and/or the conflict of the individual versus society. Suggestions?
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