Monday, May 5, 2008

Poetry All Around Me

Poetry All Around Me by Steven-Adele Morley
Available from Hewitt Publishing

Poetry is playing with English language and the sounds it makes, which is why most deaf find poetry allusive. This book is very good at breaking poetry up into bite-size pieces, but a student would still need a strong grasp of the English language to follow through the book. I think this would be a good choice for any student ready to try poetry.

It includes lots of thought-provoking activities. The activities listed through page 18 would be appropriate for English or ASL poetry. Many of the brainstorming activities would also work with ASL poetry. Some of the activities could be played like a game or challenge for the student. If your student likes to challenge himself, this may be a motivator to figure it out. Many activities require the use of a dictionary and thesaurus which would give an opportunity to teach basic dictionary skills.

Rhyming is going to be a little more difficult. What hearing people hear, deaf people see. I show my daughter how the words form the same shape on my face when they rhyme. Now this obviously doesn’t mean that every word that looks similar on my lips will rhyme, but in an isolated activity it works nicely.

This book really offers many ways to manipulate the English language. This approach may make English fun for the deaf learner. Remember to work on these activities together. I wouldn’t set the student down with this book by himself. Another nice feature of the book is that it offers simple definitions of vocabulary such as rhyming, etc.

My two cents on poetry: Unless the student is required to write an original poem or study poetry for school, I would introduce them to some basic, simple English poetry and then let the student discover ASL poetry. In my humble opinion, if a deaf person doesn’t understand the reason for poetry why should they want to read it? ASL poetry is beautiful and demonstrates why we enjoy poetry. Poetry is playing with our language and a deaf person’s natural language is ASL.

Topics included are senses, rhyming, synonyms, antonyms, free verse, similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, alliteration, onomatopoeia, haiku and more.

I would recommend this book if a simple introduction to poetry is felt necessary for your student. It is inexpensive, so you won’t feel guilty about any activities you skip.

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