The Beat Goes on…

Hello! This blog post is going to be about poetry, specifically beat poetry. Beat poetry was a literary movement started by a group of authors who did sort of avant guard style of poetry, meaning they started going against norms and exploring American politics, rules, culture, etc. This began in the 50s post war era.

Before I get too into everything, here was the driving question for this unit.


This driving question shaped the whole project.


So why did we study this and what did we do with it? We started focusing on the 50s era to see what we were working with, then studied poetry from the Beat Generation, as well as literary devices. We would read poetry from beat poets like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and discuss them in the class which was a very valuable experience. A poem that stood out to me as it was one of the first ones we read was “A Supermarket in California by Ginsberg” which is linked right there. Take a look at it if you want to see an example of a beat poets writing, it’s a very interesting poem.


A milestone we worked on prior to the actual big project was studying an individual poet. Mine was Amiri Baraka. We had to learn about their life/worldview, and talk about one of their poems.

Poet and activist Amiri Baraka

I wont talk too much about him as there is a full essay right below this about him that I wrote but this assignment was very important. It focused on the circular competency HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE. A big thing about beat poets was their story prior to poetry. How did they end up here? Why do they have the perspectives they have? These things are discovered through researching the individuals past, what they experienced while growing up, any crises they had, their family life etc. I believe my essay does a good job at explaining the different perspectives he had, as he was a man of many beliefs, constantly changing, and I did my best to explain why he did that and what influenced it.

The HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE  side of poetry is one of my favourite parts about the Beat Generation and people involved because its genuinely fascinating to me. Seeing how a piece of someone’s life story can almost be fully interpreted by a poem that has absolutely nothing to do with their life. Someone’s poem about suppose, uh… a piece of concrete, could have an underlying meaning about some sort of childhood trauma they had or a good memory they remember. I like how words can do that, and its all about their perspective. 


Studying poetry, poets, and the techniques involved in poetry set us up for successful unit of writing. One of my favourite things from this unit was that every morning as class started we would have a topic to write about, and we could write about it in any way we wanted. It was supposed to be imperfect and not too thought out, which is something I rarely do when it comes to writing so it was a good activity to help me get out of my comfort zone. Here are some of my writings from these writing prompts.

This activity demonstrated the competency CREATE. This whole daily writing activity was about developing and focusing on our literacy skills. Finding out how we like to write, speak and what we want to represent in our text. From poetry to just free writing, this competency was constantly used and ill mention it more later on. 


So, why are we writing this poetry? The winter exhibition! This year’s winter exhibition was Star Wars themed (because of the new movie release) and we wanted to create an awesome combination of Star Wars and the Beat Generation. Our specific Star Wars theme was the Cantina on the planet of Tatooine, which you may be wondering, why? Trust me, there are more connections to The Cantina and beat poetry than you think. The Cantina is a place where the rebels and outcasts would go to hang out. That’s basically what beat poetry was about. Rebelling against the normal and talking about things that were going on that could be controversial. People in The Cantina and people in the Beat Generation both weren’t afraid of being ridiculed and being different.

The Cantina on the left, and some beat poets preforming on the right!

Anyways, we decided on creating The Cantina in the weight room, and have everyone perform 2 acts (around 2-3 minutes each act) of beat poetry! We split the task of turning an ugly weight room into a beautiful and authentic cantina into 4 groups. Atmosphere, food, music and decor which was my group. My group was Giorgia, Isabelle, Kai, Tamara and me! We did plenty of planning, and I’m very proud of the overall outcome. I was in charge of the tables (alongside with kai) creating the sign, and overall managing. No one really stepped up as the main leader in the beginning which was okay as we all had individual tasks, but when the night came I became more vocal and decided I’d lead if no one else was going to. It was important for me to do this as there were many unanswered questions everyone had and someone had to  answer them. Things like where does this go, what are we doing with this, do you need this, were questions I had to decide and solve for all night long. It was challenging but when it comes to exhibitions, I am used to doing that. 

The bar!


Lastly, for the timeline of this project was the actual performance of poetry. But, what did I perform? Throughout the month or so of studying beat poetry, we all were writing poems. It was a sort of do it on your own time in your own way thing which I really enjoyed and hadn’t experienced in a while. I wrote poetry during the whole unit, but wasn’t too happy with it as poetry isn’t my strongest suit, but when we were assigned to create a poetry book, I had to really get down to business. 

Being honest, poetry isn’t something I’m confident in at all. I feel quite goofy writing it and have a hard time writing about emotion specifically. I feel confident writing about facts and opinions, but when it comes to emotion and being vulnerable in writing, I get a little scared. So, I wrote. A lot. A lot a lot. Tens and tens of poems. I had to get comfortable writing poetry and the only way to do it was to DO IT! I wrote and re wrote until I felt confident in around 8 poems to put into my book. Here it is.

I’m very proud of it, and I feel my poems represent me well. I’m not saying they are amazing or outstanding, but for me and my writing skills I am proud of them. They are unfiltered, honest, and goofy, which is okay! I was so scared of them being cringe to read but that’s literally was poetry is. Not every one is going to like every poem you write and thats okay! I used the competency CREATE the whole time I wrote this book. I used the literary devices we studied, and as well explored things beyond that. I really had to focus on what I wanted to represent in each poem, and once I did that they would just come to me. 


Here is a short video of my act #2 performance. 


This was a kind of terrifying experience as a) I’m reading poetry I’ve written, and b) so many people were staring at me. But once I read a few lines, and saw smiles on peoples faces, I felt okay. I had to be confident in my writing and know it was all okay. The poems I read in this act are both included in my book. 


Ive reflected on stuff individually already in each section of this post, but for an overall reflection I believe this was a very important unit. I talk about this a lot but writing isn’t something I’ve ever been confident in, so every time we do a writing based unit, it is very helpful. I know I can make things look pretty, but I want to also be able to write. And not just write, write with a meaning and reason. I believe my writing skills have improved because of this unit, and I’m leaving this unit with a strong understanding of both competencies, and a new found respect of poetry. 

Before I finish off this post, I need to mention this as it was the highlight of the whole unit. A lady I’ve never seen in my life before came up to me after my act 2 and complimented my poetry and asked me if I write often. I told her besides school assignments, no, and she told me I should write more and that she really liked my poetry. I was feeling really scared after act 2 as I didn’t know if people liked my writing, so this really meant a lot to me. Someone genuinely  enjoyed my poetry, and that makes this whole unit worth it x10. 

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