Chronicle poetry assignment

Chronicle of a Death Foretold poetry assignment
This poem prompt could be a way to focus on a specific event in your own life. You could also write about an event
in the life of your novel’s main character. Perhaps your character only just mentions something from her/his past;
therefore, you might have to use your imagination and make up some details to add richness to your poem. Some
possible subjects could be:
● An early apartment or house you lived in
● An early sports activity
● Your best friend
● A favorite toy broken
● An old picture book
● Running away from home
● A relationship with a grandparent (aunt,
● Some kind of lessons (piano, dance, sports)
uncle, cousin)
● A family gathering
● An early photograph
● A scary event
Begin by writing down everything that’s even remotely about the subject. Try to put yourself physically in that
place. Think of the details perceived through the senses — the smell of the movie house, the voice of the coach,
the feel of the broken toy. Write a poem and make the memory so authentic that any reader will be able to
experience it.
Grandmother’s Visit by Beth Frost
You walked out of the plane
Into my room
And made it your own
Filled it with yourself —
The scent of powder,
The small leather prayer book
Wrapped in plastic to hold the aging
Skin, worn and wrinkled.
I would wake early
Before the rest were awake
And know you would be reading.
I skirted over the cold wood floors
Held my breath against the stairs’ creaks
And saw the light under the door.
I climbed under your warm blankets
And listened.
You will take two points of view on a particular topic, situation or theme from (or inspired by) the novel.
“Ending Poem” was written by and contains the voices of two poets — mother and daughter. Puerto Rican author
Rosario Morales was raised in New York City and then returned to Puerto Rico to live with her Jewish-American
husband. Their daughter Aurora Levins Morales was born and spent her early years in Puerto Rico on a coffee
farm. Although the family eventually moved back to the mainland, readers can hear the islands in the Morales’
poetry. In “Ending Poem,” the poets celebrate the different cultures that have contributed to who they are today.
Ending Poem by Rosario Morales and Aurora Levins Morales
I am what I am.
A child of the Americas.
A light-skinned mestiza of the Caribbean.
A child of many diaspora, born into this continent at a crossroads.
I am Puerto Rican. I am U.S. American.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold poetry assignment
I am New York Manhattan and the Bronx,
A mountain-born, country-bred, homegrown jíbara child,
up from the shtetl, a California Puerto Rican Jew.
A product of the New York ghettos I have never known.
I am an immigrant.
and the daughter and granddaughter of immigrants.
We didn’t know our forebears’ names with a certainty.
They aren’t written anywhere.
First names only or mija, negra, ne, honey, sugar, dear.
I come from the dirt where the cane was grown.
My people didn’t go to dinner parties. They weren’t invited.
I am caribeña, island grown.
Spanish is in my flesh, ripples from my tongue, lodges in my hips,
the language of garlic and mangoes.
Boricua. As Boricuas come from the isle of Manhattan.
I am latinoamerica, rooted in the history of my continent.
I speak from that body. Just brown and pink and full of drums inside.
I am not African.
Africa waters the roots of my tree, but I cannot return.
I am not Taína.
I am a late leaf of that ancient tree,
and my roots reach into the soil of two Americas.
Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not European, though I have dreamt of those
Each plate is different.
wood, clay, papier mâché, metals basketry, a leaf, a
coconut shell.
Europe lives in me but I have no home there.
The table has a cloth woven by one, dyed by another,
embroidered by another still.
I am a child of many mothers.
They have kept it all going.
All the civilizations erected on their backs.
All the dinner parties given with their labor.
We are new.
They gave us life, kept us going,
brought us to where we are.
Born at a crossroads.
Come, lay that dishcloth down. Eat, dear, eat.
History made us.
We will not eat ourselves up inside anymore.
And we are whole.
Vocabulary for “Ending Poem”
mestizo: a woman of Spanish (or Portuguese) and
Native American descent.
diaspora: a group of people dispersed or scattered.
jíbara: a rural Puerto Rican woman with distinctive
dialect and customs.
shtetl : Yiddish work for a Jewish village in Russia
and Central Europe.
mija: short for mi hija or m’hija — my daughter.
negra: black girl (can be used as a term of
ne: possibly short for nena, which means girl; also a
term of endearment.
caribeña: a woman from the Caribbean.
Boricua: a Puerto Rican (comes from the preColumbus name for the people of the island we call
Puerto Rico).
Taína: Native American woman of Puerto Rico before
contact with Europeans.
Taíno: native people or man of Puerto Rico (see
Chronicle of a Death Foretold poetry assignment
On a sheet of paper list 5 to 7 images from the novel.
● choose one and circle it
● describe everything you see, hear, smell in the image. Include color, texture, time of day or night, season
and place
● Notice something that is in the background. Notice what stands out in the foreground
● Look for items, actions or expressions that suggest more than surface appearance
What you have done is just like looking at a photograph. Using the idea of a photograph, recreate a “snapshot”
that conveys information about a character. Imagine that you are one of the characters looking at this old
photograph. Try to reveal changes the then and when the image was taken and the now when it is being
Family Album by Diane Stevenson
A child with only the sun
in her eyes, my sister shields her face,
hand palm out, as if to say no.
Alone, the garden behind her fragments
of color, my mother seems to listen.
July, 1947: I am here, too, inside,
as yet invisible, though the sun
must filter through, like blood, to me.
I must be hearing her heart.
At two, I sit in the grass,
legs forward, facing the sun.
On the lawn in front of me,
a dark figure approaches,
almost touching my feet.
I look up, blink, and my father
records himself, a shadow,
just out of range.
Florida, 1960. My sister and I kneel,
behind us three generations of women.
No son’s been born for a hundred years.
Even the palms are graceful women,
and hibiscus opens its wide, red mouth.
Photograph, 1969 by Katy Barber, student
This is my mother
lifting her hair long
like a low whistle
off her neck
These are her fingers
caught in the tangles
of brown and gold caught in
silver earrings
This is my father
reaching through the lens
to touch the edge of a new family
to touch her opening belly
under her full dress
This is existing
before I exist
This is me growing up
against their lives
him watching for a sharp
breath from her
her looking out
onto the boarder of birth
this is bumping us into three
Chronicle of a Death Foretold poetry assignment
This version (below) is written in free verse; the poet does not following any set rhythmic or rhyming rules. Why
do you think she divided her lines the way she did? Rita Dove paints a picture from her childhood. What images
do you see? Look again at Dove’s details, about things and feelings.
Now it’s your turn. All you need is the picture I asked you to bring and an open mind.
Minimum 14 lines
Focus on IMAGERY (incorporating the five senses)
Describe the photo as specifically as possible, then write what you remember or something you realize
about yourself at the end
Refer to “Fifth Grade Autobiography” as an example
1) Look at your picture. Don’t worry about formatting a poem just yet; simply write down all of the images
you see/remember. Don’t just use sight! Use as many of the five senses as possible. Write down MORE
than you think you will need/use.
2) Now go through your list and circle the images you particularly like. Can you add better detail to them?
More descriptive adjectives? What kind of chair is it, for example?
3) Once you have selected the images you want to use, put them into some sort of organization. Do you
want to describe people first, and then objects? Should you move from left to right in the photo? Or is
there some other way you can organize your thoughts? Group the images together in the organizational
pattern you’ve chosen.
4) Now begin to write your poem. Remember that you aren’t required to have a complete sentence in every
line! Some of your sentences may trickle into two lines. Some of your sentences may be just one line.
It’s up to you—just make sure you choose where you break your lines intentionally. Don’t just start a new
line because it “feels” like you should. Consider the words and images you want to highlight. Also
consider where a pause should go.
5) Once your poem is written, it’s time to revise. Go back through and look at individual words. Have you
chosen just the right word for the idea and tone you want to convey? Consider connotation. Have you
used action verbs and stayed away from weak verbs like is/are/was/were/am/being/been? Have you
stayed away from vague descriptors like nice/cool/memorable?
6) When you believe you’re finished…remember, poems are never finished, only abandoned! So, when you
are satisfied, give your poem an appropriate title, and type a final draft on a single sheet of paper.
“Fifth Grade Autobiography” by Rita Dove:
I was four in this photograph fishing
with my grandparents at a lake in Michigan.
My brother squats in poison ivy.
His Davy Crockett cap
sits squared on his head so that raccoon tail
Flounces down the back of his sailor suit.
I am staring jealously at my brother;
the day before he rode his first horse, alone.
My grandfather sits to the far right
in a folding chair,
and I know his left hand is on
the tobacco in his pants pocket
because I used to wrap it for him
every Christmas. Grandmother’s hips
bulge from the brush, she’s leaning
into the ice chest, sun through the trees
printing her dress with soft
luminous paws.
But I remember his hands.
I was strapped in a basket
behind my grandfather.
He smelled of lemons. He’s died—