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Poets Imagining the City

Author: Sally O’Brien


Kensington High School

Year: 2019

Seminar: Modern and Contemporary American Poetry

Grade Level: 10-11

Keywords: imagination, Langston Hughes, Mary Oliver, poetry, writing prompt

School Subject(s): English, Literature, Poetry

This unit encourages students to imaginatively engage with the city of Philadelphia, through the collaborative close reading and writing of poetry. The unit is divided into five sections, along thematic lines rather than by chronology or form. In each section, poems by major modern American poets including Whitman, Williams, O’Hara, Hughes, and Sandburg are paired with poems by living poets of color that approach cities and urban life in a similar way. Each section is also accompanied by a writing prompt or prompts that have students use the poems in that section as mentor texts. The culminating assessment is a portfolio of five poems, each with an accompanying artist statement explaining how the student has incorporated aspects of the mentor text into their own work. Each section of the unit is designed so that it could be taught on its own if time constraints necessitate this. Furthermore, the core instructional strategies of collaborative close reading, annotation, and writing with mentor texts are widely applicable across various contexts.

Download Unit: OBrien-S.-19.01.12.pdf

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