Three Letters from Parents for Days 12, 13, & 14 of NPM

For this Monday, a catch-up from a poetry-less weekend (sorry), with three connected poems — all letters from parents, real or imagined, to their children.  I love putting poems like these side-by-side to discuss their commonalities and their differences.  Your students could add their own “letter” to the mix, modeled after any of the ones they see; they could have a Socratic Seminar discussion on the parent-child relationship; they could analyze the impact of structure, voice, etc. has on a poem’s meaning and effect . . .  lots of possibilities for these three:

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
Source: The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Books, 1994)
If I Should Have a Daughter by Sarah Kay (poem ends at 3:38)
Knock, Knock by Daniel Beaty
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