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Using Emerson as a Guide in American Literature Honors

Juniors in Tricia Hoar’s American Literature Honors class recently wrote found poems using Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance.” Hoar said her students worked in groups to create a piece in the fashion of Emerson’s essay. “I created and used this assignment for the first time this year, and it was a fun way to have students think about and discuss Emerson’s essay and to work collaboratively to arrange Emerson’s language to create a poem that simultaneously honors and emphasizes Emerson’s intentions,” said Hoar. “Each student had to contribute at least one line to their group’s poem.” At the end of each poem is the group’s description of their craft, which is always interesting. Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them by making changes in spacing and lines.