The Beat Goes on…

This unit in PLP 11, we focused our project on the 1950’s Beat Generation by learning about important figures and events of that time, how to properly write poetry and speak it, and the significance of the Beat Generation on our world still today and how we could emulate that ourselves.  Throughout our learning in this unit, we kept to our driving question “How can we use poetry to reflect our perspectives on people, places, issues, and beliefs?” as a guide.  I felt very confident in this unit, yet also challenged as I’d never really written any poetry before, but I love an artistic challenge.  

At the beginning of the project, we started with writing journals from journal prompts, in any form we’d like.  I enjoyed reflecting like this and over the course of the project, moving my entries more into a style of poetry rather than just paragraphs.  After we’d learned more about how to properly speak spoken-word poetry we were asked to write a poem about anything, and record it, then share it with our group.  I enjoyed starting the unit like this and exploring early on, my style of poetry and how to make it exciting to listen to.  I wrote my poem about the trip I plan to take after I graduate from high-school.

International Fantasia

Working hard for 12 years, ready to move along and be free.

The grind is done, a new chapter has begun.  

Summer camp for the last time, then I’m off to the races.

Setting a jet to somewhere new, scared as I’ve ever been.

Waiting for me are experiences I’ve never dreamt of.

Problems will arise that I never thought of.

Things will show themselves that I never knew of.

Away from home, with no-one beside me.

Responsibility like I’ve never known before.

Solitude, revealing me, as someone I’ve never met.

Tomorrow turns the new term, terrifying yet tantalizing.

I’m a feather blowing through the air, who knows where.

My sketchbook, my loyal companion on the journey.

Two months of bliss, removed from the established routine.

I’m eighteen.

I’m learning things I could’ve never foreseen.

My dreams are coming true.

New York, Argentina, Europe and Asia.

An international fantasia.

Throughout this time, we continued our learning on literary devices, and how to properly use them, starting our reflection on our competency “What literacy skills am I using to write, speak, and represent in the texts I create?” At this point in the unit, I was beginning to feel more confident when I read poetry, and it felt great to be able to identify these devices, and recognize patterns in all of the poetry we were reading in class, and poetry I read from books and the internet.  

Our first big ‘project’ this unit was Bio of a Beat, which I did on Lucien Carr, one of the original members/founders of the beat generation, although he wasn’t really a poet.  I think that this project was very beneficial towards our learning and helped me to understand the history of the generation much more clearly.  The competencies we focused on in this unit were “Explain and infer on different perspectives on past or present people, places, issues, or events by considering prevailing norms, values, world views, and beliefs.” and “What literacy skills am I using to write, speak, and represent in the texts I create?” I chose to do my bio in the form of a keynote, and I thought that it really worked well for this project.  Lucien Carr was a very interesting person to learn about, and definitely had an eventful, up-and-down life.  Along with this, we learned lots about the 1950’s to gain more understanding of the climate of the time and what would be the inspiration behind these poets, and the generation as a whole (mainly it being the new age after the war, with more room to express opinions and issues), and I felt that it was an important addition to our awareness of the competencies.

The next milestone of our project was the beginning of the Cantina, as we had to begin writing our poems for our collection of poems, and plan out the exhibition.  We were separated into four different departments, decor, lights, food, and sound.  I decided to join the decor department which I think was the perfect choice, and I began to work on my poems.  In the end, I had nine poems collected to hand in for my milestone.  I found while writing this collection of poems that it was more difficult to write, and find inspiration than when we wrote them in class.  I felt that it wasn’t easy to find a concept that I felt I could convey well through the literary devices and poetry styles.  After I put less pressure on the process I felt that it was a lot easier, and in the end I felt proud of my collection (although I wish we could’ve had even more time so that I could’ve added even more than nine poems). 

The very last (but not least) milestone for this unit, was the exhibition!  When we learned that the theme of our 1950’s/ Beat Generation project would be Star Wars Cantina, I won’t lie that I was a bit confused and apprehensive to see how it would work out, but after we began preparations I thought that it worked out great!  The Star Wars theme, I thought, really fit well with our project.  Being my first exhibition, I didn’t really know what to expect and I was excited to see what the whole class working together would look like.  The PLP class worked together so well, turning out an awesome exhibition room and atmosphere, and I will admit that I’m proud of my Cantina contribution with the bar, and supplies for everyone to utilize.  

The thing that I was most nervous about for this exhibition was definitely the fact that we had to get up in-front of a group of people and read our own original poetry.  I feel that one of my main strengths is public speaking, due to my history in ballet and love of presentation but I had never spoken something as personal in public before.  We practiced once in class which was definitely a help, but what I found interesting is the fact that it was so much easier to perform on stage rather than in the classroom!

Here’s a video of my second of two sets of poetry (I think that my first set was better, but it wasn’t caught on tape.)

I really enjoyed this unit, and the competencies that we had to think about throughout.  I feel really satisfied with the improvement I made in PLP during, and am very happy to have learned more about this historic moment in time and how to explore my creativity through poetry.