Poetry for World Literature

My Mother Pieced Quilts,” by Teresa Palomo Acosta

  • A first-person testimonial of a Chicano woman who connects her mother’s practical art of quilt making with her personal family and cultural histories
  • It’s a “plain literal translation” so it has no rhyme.
  • Historically and culturally, quilts represent a visual narrative that link the universal experiences of women
  • the narrator discovers the significance of the quilts in her understanding of herself
  • quilt became a portrait of family and self, of life and death, of labor and love
  • daughter inherits the stories in the quilts her mother pieced—preserves history and culture; serves as a historical document of the family
  • Acosta personifies the quilts as living things
  • mother’s piecing involves linking the past, present and future


Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes

  • free verse; enjambment;
  • Set in 1920’s Harlem Renaissance (an African-American art and cultural movement in the early 20th century.)
  • the black speaker of the poem reflects on his presence in an all-white English class, and how this experience is representative of a larger American experience.
  • For the first half of the poem, the speaker emphasizes the ways in which his ethnicity separates him, physically and figuratively, from his white classmates and professor.
  • speaker suggests that even though he is of a different race than his classmates and professor, he is not drastically unlike them
  • Hughes uses a different rhythm in the third stanza when the speaker explains the things that he likes (similar to jazz music)
  • his classmates and instructor are all a part of what the speaker might suggest is a larger American identity.
  • Black and white — both descriptors of race and the typing on a page
  • “Will my page be colored that I write?” i.e. will I be able to complete the assignment?

Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

  • The list form is simple and familiar, and the question of where you are from reaches deep
  • Write your own “Where I’m From” poem:
    • places
    • food, a description of a table setting
    • scenes from your memories
    • an important event
    • helping your parents’ work; tools they used
    • description of important people in your life
    • music
    • phrases you’ve said/lyrics you’ve sung
    • what you wanted to say but never did
    • a significant object—felt/sounded/looked/smelled like, your memory of it, a message connected with it.
  • Video of the original poem and a student example
  • Examples of video poems: video 1, video 2, video 3, video 4,
  • emphasizes creating powerful images in poetry





“Think as I Think” by Stephen Crane

“The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats