Lesson: We Live Our Death: the Conflict through Poetry
Lesson Name: "We Live Our Death" Course: High School Language Arts by Anke al-Bataineh
Objective: Students explore emotional attachments in the conflict through poetry from each side
Essential Questions: (write on board)
What emotions do Palestinians feel about the conflict?
What emotions do Israelis feel about the conflict?
How do these emotions affect the negotiations of a solution?
Anticipatory Set: (5 min)
Students have seen some facts by now about the conflict. Ask how they know or imagine each side feels. What emotions do they feel and why? What is the most sad or frightening part of the conflict for each side? The Lemon Tree has also provided some insight into this. Write ideas on the board.
Input: (5 min)
Introduce each poet, and poetry as a means for the expression of a community's emotions. Mention examples the students might recognize from their own communities (Tupac is an Oakland example)
Guided Practice: (10 min)
Read each poem out loud dramatically one time. Students will examine them in detail later. Point out that some lines that are particularly strong or clear might be gathered as evidence, but also the main idea of the poem can be cited in a debate to talk about emotional attachments to land or reactions to conflict.
Independent Work: (40 min)
Pass out copies of the four poets' work. Rotate them through the groups and ask each group to discuss the main idea, strong lines, and to gather evidence. Encourage them to think about sweeping statements and their meaning. Examples of key statements include "We live our death," (Mahmoud Darwish), "they had to include the sea" (Ahmed Dahbour), "their give and take neither giving nor taking" (Yehuda Amichai), and "I am in the chains of Arabia" (Judah Ha-Levi).
Conclusion/Assessment: (5 min)
Discuss what evidence students gathered and what evidence will serve to rebut it.
Vocab to Watch Out For:
What went well?
What would you change?
What needs explanation?
Students are able to perceive emotions from poetry even without understanding all the words
When I teach this, I actually read more poetry but I read some of my favorites. I have the entire collection of Mahmoud Darwish's work in Arabic. I read a few of my favorites in Arabic and then translate them to English. You might find audio files that could provide a similar experience.
Mahmoud Darwish is the Palestinian National Poet and his work is held up as emblematic of the struggle. This means that he is "in" with the political establishment. This means that he writes passionately about the experience of living under occupation, but refrains from obvious insults to Israel or complaints about the government. These can be found in some works but are not prevalent. Incidentally, I have met him. He is as sophisticated and aloof as you might expect. He is unbelievably popular throughout the Arab world.