Making Curriculum Pop


For those of you that don't know - my wife Nicole is a poetry junkie. She's such a poem addict that she teaches a grad class when we go home Chicago in the summer titled Poetry Across the Curriculum. I'm telling you this because I'm probably subconsciously ALWAYS on the look out for poetry in popular culture so I can impress Nicole with my poetic literacy!

Inaugurations are always a good excuse for popular discussions about poetry. Most of you probably heard Elizabeth Alexander's "Praise Song for the Day" at the little gathering in DC Tuesday - but did you catch Stephen Colbert's interview with her last night? If you teach in a cool secondary school you can certainly use this clip to teach poetic devices and genres. If you work in an uptight school district you might want to be very selective and "clip the clip."
Yes, when it comes to Stephen Colbert and spoken word poetry its clear there "ain't no mountain high enough,"

Now for those teachers who are interested in reminding students about the value of editing and proofreading check out Taylor Mali's awesome performance poem "The Impotence of Proofreading." It used to stream for free on his website but I can guarantee you that the .95 cents you pay for this poem will be money well spent.

We invited Taylor to perform at our first conference on popular culture and teaching at Teachers College...and I've got to tell you - and he blew teachers socks off. Taylor was a teacher before becoming a "full-time poet" - for that reason a lot of his poems are inspired by his work in schools. He is a very kind man who was excited to engage with teachers. If you want to learn more about him and catch some of his DefPoetry Jam performances check out his website.

While you're there be sure to play with his navigation tabs - did that sound dirty? I didn't mean for it to...just watch his image...

What are your favorite examples of poetry in popular culture (this, of course includes cool slam poetry websites).

Please share cool links below...

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Batman: Animated Series, Episode: "Tyger, Tyger" - Poem: "Tyger, Tyger" by William Blake

This has always been my favorite example of poetry in pop culture. Rich with teachable moments, the episode itself is three parts "The Island of Dr. Moreau" mixed in with a little bit of ethics and "The Most Dangerous Game" - all thrown against the backdrop of Blake's "Tyger, Tyger." A special treat is in store for those who wait until the end: Kevin Conroy - as Batman - reciting the last stanza. (And what better way is there to make poetry cooler to the young mind then to show Batman actually reading it?)

As far as the Animated Series fares as a whole, this episode exhibited a particularly fine script in addition to a brilliant performance on the part of the cast.

Below is the link for part 2, although I highly recommend you watch both parts and buy the series.

- Cheryl
Cheryl, is this episode available on DVD?

Thanks for the post!

Yes it is.

The series was released in volumes and not in episode or season order, so although originially in the first season, "Tyger, Tyger" is now in volume 2.

The price listed on Amazon is pretty decent.

On a side note, in the second season of the subsequent series "Batman Beyond," there is an episode called "Splicers," which centers around a villanous mad-scientist (Dr. Able Cuvier, "Georges Cuvier" being the real-life French zoologist who proved extinction was a fact) who markets the infusion of animal DNA as "the latest tattoo." ( ) He works at a place called Chimera (a great segue into classic mythology?), but, of course, has ulterior motives behind his creations. I think it is an altered retelling (no pun intended) of "Tyger, Tyger," or at least an attempt to reach a different generation. You could use both episodes to teach William Blake, definitely use both to teach "The Island of Dr. Moreau," and, if you're a science teacher, use both to teach genetics, DNA, etc. Come to think of it, the episodes would make a nice interdisciplinary unit between the English (the stories, poems, and myths themselves), Science (the processes used within each story), and Social Studies (if you happen to be studying France in the 19th century) departments.

Hope this helps, and if you ever need to know anything more about these series, please feel free to ask. :-)

- Cheryl
Could anybody ever forget "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe on "The Simpsons"? It was narrated by James Earl Jones and is excellent!
Don't know how to post the clip but the link is here:



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