When people say, "we have made it through worse before"
by Clint Smith
Workshop Title: When People Say
Have your students watch the clip from a standup performance by Anthony Jeselnik. Then have them discuss the content of the clip and how they’ve experienced the same feelings when somebody offers them an “empty” saying or turn of phrase.
Read “When people say, ‘we have made it through worse before’” by Clint Smith. Then ask your students about the way the speaker feels when his offered that phrase.
Give your students some time to brainstorm a list of ways that they are offered hollow advice or comfort. Then have them jot down the ways that it makes them feel and why.
Have your students write a poem like Smith’s poem in which they essentially finish the statement, “When people say…”
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Tone
If your students are not familiar with the concept of tone or tonal shifts, go through the introductory lesson.
Simply read the title of the poem aloud. Then ask your students how they would feel if somebody said this to them. If you need to, ask them how they would feel if people felt the need to keep saying this again.
Read “When people say, ‘we have made it through worse before’” by Clint Smith. Then ask your students about the tone of the piece, the way the speaker comes off and why.
Have your students open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students will have to discuss how the contrasting images in the piece contribute to the poem’s tone. Then give your students time to work.
When your students are done have them share their responses with one another. If time permits, share the exemplar essay.
- Death / Grief
- Police Brutality / Profiling
- Race / Ethnicity / Racism
- Social Movements / Protest
- Figurative Language
- Selection of Detail
- Structure (Syntax)