As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Teaching Tool Kit

Decolonial Love Teaching Tool Kit 

(materials developed by As Us Team member Lucy Burns)

Letter From The Editors

  1. After reading the Letter From The Editors, how would you describe the theme of this collection?
  2. The authors assert the importance of love. Do you agree? Why or why not?
  3. Why might it be important, interesting, challenging, or valuable to read work from writers who are incarcerated?
  4. Several of the editors bring up the concept of borders or boundaries. As you read the works in this collection, watch for borders and boundaries. How do the poets approach this idea of separation whether physical or conceptual, mandated or chosen?

Decolonial Love Issue 4

“Love Poem #53: Home and Roads” by Jerry Brunoe

Discussion Questions:

  1. Brunoe explores the complex concept of home in this poem. Does Brunoe challenge or expand upon your own definition of home? Does the speaker’s concept of home change from the first section to the last?
  2. This poem is written in three sections. How does the poem change in each section? How would this poem be different if it were written as one or two longer sections?
  3. This poem is written in tribute to the poet Agha Shahid Ali. Read “Land” by Agha Shahid Ali. What similarities do you see between the two poems? Does reading “Land” change your understanding of “Love Poem #53: Home and Roads”?

Writing Prompts:

  1. Write down the first 20 images that come to mind when you think of the word home. Next, choose three of these images and use each image to write a poem in three sections.
  2. In the first and second sections of this poem, Brunoe draws from the poetic form of a Ghazal by using the same end word twice in the first couplet and then at the end of each second line of the following couplets. Choose your own word and write seven couplets following this pattern.

“this is easy” by Charlie Bast

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is the significance of the title of this poem? How does it relate to the final lines of the poem?
  2. What is the significance of the line “be wary what you ask for”? Does it change the meaning of the previous lines? If so, how? How does it affect the lines that follow?
  3. There are no capital letters in this poem. Does the use of lower case letters change your understanding of the content? Why might an author choose to avoid upper case letters?
  4. The author uses quotation marks around the word “life” in the last line of the second stanza. How do the quotation marks change the meaning of the poem?

Writing Prompts

  1. Write about a situation in which you wished for something and then got your wish, but ultimately regretted it.
  2. In this poem, the author writes in six line stanzas with one exception—the second to last stanza has eight lines. Choose a specific stanza length, and then write a poem that adheres to the pattern, with one exception. The exception can have more lines or fewer and may appear anywhere in the poem.
  3. Experiment with capitalization. Try writing a poem in which all first letters are capitalized; then write a second version in which none of the letters are capitalized. Try capitalizing the middle letter of some words. How do these changes change the process of reading the poem? How do they affect the content of the poem?

“I am” by Vincent Lewis

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do the images effectively create a portrait of the speaker? Use lines from the poem to support your answer.
  2. What does the line “I am the procession nowhere” mean in the context of this poem?
  3. What images stand out the most in this poem? Why?
  4. This poem paints a place as much as it paints a picture of person. Why might a writer choose this strategy in a poem titled “I am”?

Writing Prompts

  1. This poem uses image after image to create a picture of the speaker. Try writing your own poem of accumulation using the format “I am…” or “love is…”.
  2. In this poem, Lewis presents an image in one line, and then shifts its significance in the next line or two. The lines “And the first time I saw my own reflection / was after beating their mother to a pulp in the broken glass” and “I learned the value of an penny on the old tracks / in Grandma’s back yard / in God we trust smashed flat by the Santa Fe Rail train” are good examples of this technique. Write a 10-15 line poem in which you employ this technique at least three times.

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Issue 3February 14, 2014
Online version of Issue 3 goes live!

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