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April 07, 2010

Heard Any Great Poetry Lately?

Most people think of learning a language as practicing pronunciation and memorizing vocabulary and sentence structure. That's all very important, but learning has to be engaging and inviting. I urge my students to attend poetry slams and other...

...forms of performance art.

In a world of Ipods and social networking websites, there is nothing like being in the presence of someone playing with words as they express and present their fears, hopes and rage in spoken arts.

If you can't find a local venue for performing art, yes, there is always youtube (among many others).

Esperanza Spalding is a performer I have recently discovered. To put it mildly, she is like no other. You won't believe her infectious joy and energy in her stage presence. If you can ever see her perform live, don't miss it, but until then, you can catch her online.

She performed at The White House fairly recently, you can see some of her clips here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFsVXdmwZoo&feature=related or here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xfG-dJFbxc&feature=related.

Be sure to catch the introduction by President and Mrs Obama. Their opening words will remind you of the power, beauty and joy of the spoken words. Catch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUfekqAJHeI&feature=related.

And be sure to catch Esperanza Spalding as she does her best at President Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance ceremony http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXtAFOr9ahs&feature=related .

People like Esperanza make me want to perform - and urge my students (and friends) to express their passions in as beautiful and graceful way she does.

A field trip to a spoken arts performance will not be forgotten, and who knows? You just might ignite a lifelong passion for poetry and performance art.

Most "poetry slams" are open to any participants and all are invited to share their own writings or favorite poems from someone else, but either way, everyone is welcome.

For my next post, I'll give some thoughts on sing-along songs and games for children and language beginners. Yes, learning should be fun - and I am convinced that the learning that really "sticks" will be the learning that is most enjoyable.

We are all always learning. And we, as well as the world around us, are always changing. And we never know what stray novel, song, poem or short story might shed some light on a situation or make us wonder or be thankful for the life we have.

It is always more fun to learn together, so let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foreign foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

Posted by mmorf at April 7, 2010 12:02 AM

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