The Poet Laureate Project:
The poet laureate project of Stephen Seller’s 10th grade humanities class was about finding the untold stories of World War I and bringing them to new light. For this project every student chose a country that was involved in WWI in some way. We then researched our countries’ attachment in the war. Based on the information from our research, we then each picked an event that involved our country, and that we felt portrayed the essence of our countries’ role in the war. After intensely studying our chosen event, we described it in a poem. We considered several different forms of poetry, and then chose the form we liked best. We wrote companion essays along with the poem to show the historical context behind the work. Each student was assigned to a position on the book launch team in order to publish our works in a book and sponsor a book launch party at a local gallery. In addition, we each made a presentation about our event and countries’ involvement and taught it to our class in order to gain an overall view of what each country did in World War I.
Book launch Team:
My book launch team was the copy editors. Our team was in charge of making sure that the pages were acceptable for publishing with regards to general proofreading. My team was responsible for reviewing all the poems and essays and checking them for errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and making them look uniform in formatting. I edited six sets of poems and essays for my team. My other team members also did six of each, as we evenly split the workload.
- In this project I produced a poem with a specific rhyme, meter, and form, an explanatory essay about the event I chose, and a presentation about my country. I edited six poems and six essays in two days in order that our works could get published. I extensively researched my country and its involvement in WWI. My poem artistically described the tragedy that led to Brazil joining in the war. My poem is in the form of an iambic pentameter villanelle with trochaic substitutions. Villanelle is a closed form of poetry that is nineteen-lines, which are each composed of six stanzas, and it has two rhyming refrains. The stanzas are made of five tercets and one quatrain. Iambic and trochaic are two forms of meter that call for the words’ stresses to fall in a specific order, unstressed then stressed for iambic and stressed unstressed for trochaic. Pentameter means that there are five feet or ten syllables per line. I chose this form of poetry, because one of my favorite poems, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” is in this form. In that poem I found the refrains to be very powerful and felt that I might be able to create a similar effect for my event.
- I am most proud of creating my poem, because it was the most difficult portion of the project for me. I have never really enjoyed crafting poetry or just poetry in general. I struggle to understand poetry, as it is almost never straightforward. Additionally, I chose a difficult form to emulate, so I also grappled to learn new poetry terms in order to make my poem in the correct format. I discovered valuable websites that aided in the finding of rhyming words and necessary number of syllables. I made use of a good old-fashioned dictionary to determine stressed and unstressed syllables. In the process of creating this poem, I found that every syllable of every word counts.
- The aspect that I will remember the most will be getting to know the other copy editors better. I promised myself that this semester I would work on my collaboration skills. Through this project, I was able to work with a student that I didn't know very well, but that I really admire. My favorite memory will be seeing the book for the first time. I had my doubts on how the book would turn out. I knew that some students were not as motivated as me in education, so I questioned whether it would actually be completed. I couldn’t picture what the design team had planned or what the book would look like. When I was first handed the book, my breath was taken away. The book looked so professional, I could barely believe that we made the book even though I helped to create it.
- I learned that it’s hard to remain interested and enthusiastic when studying the same topic for such a long time frame. As we were studying general World War I for at least four months, some of the basic concepts and general ideas became repetitive. I also learned how to deal with deadlines. Originally the copy editors had four days to review all the papers and poems, so we planned to review them all twice. However, due to snow days, the project was pushed back. As a repercussion the copy edit team was allowed only two days, so we had to re-think our strategy in order to meet the deadline. Therefore many of the teams became very stressed, which made collaboration between the different groups more of a struggle. I learned that I need to deal with stress more effectively. I don’t know very many good ways of relieving myself from stress, so I spent most of my time exasperated and venting about my frustrations, which did not make for good collaboration, because it made me close-minded. Through self-evaluation, I became aware that I sneed to find better coping strategies to handle frustration and hope to do better on my next collaboration effort.
- Some transferable skills that I learned or improved through this project were speaking in public, the ability to meet deadlines, working with and confronting others, negotiation skills, and problem solving. By giving my oral presentation, my public speaking skills were refined. Through the book launch teams, my collaboration skills grew though this was a painful part of the project. As I was homeschooled until 9th grade, my cooperation skills are subpar. The design team and the copy editors had to form a compromise in this project, so my negotiation skills were refined. The design team wanted us to do something we felt we didn’t have time to do, as we had to edit six essays and poems each in two days. We formed a consensus, which satisfied both groups. Success for this project required multiple groups working together to make the book a beautiful reality.
Archive of Work: