Nara: April—Poetry for Language Learning and Personal Growth by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

Nara: April—Poetry for Language Learning and Personal Growth by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa 

After brief self-introductions, attendees were asked by Joritz-Nakagawa to look over the 17 poems on her handout and select the one(s) we could use in class. When everyone was ready, each person related which one(s) could be used and how. Rather than mere presentation, everyone added comments and questions about each person’s potential uses, which created an interactive and useful sharing session. Some of the considerations in choosing poems were language difficulty, length, the sound of a poem when read, and the image created by a poem. Activities ranged from merely reading the poem, to having discussions about it or students sharing impressions. Joritz-Nakagawa noted that songs are often better for rhythm and rhyme if that is a goal.  

Although she has taught courses devoted to poetry, she mainly peppers her other classes, including general English classes, with activities similar to the ones we discussed. One thing of note is that she tries to make many of the activities communal in nature so students can share their ideas and help each other, rather than working alone. She then gave us information about materials and resources before ending the workshop with ideas and experiences of using poetry for therapy and personal growth.  

Reported by Rodney Dunham


If any other attendees would like to comment on the presentation, particularly anyone who has had the chance to try any of her ideas in the classroom, please feel free to chime in.


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