Lesson Plan:Puerto Rican Obituary Latino Identity in New York (NEH Seminar) July, 2011 Jesse Neuman JesseNeuman@gmail.com
1. The Basics: • Lesson Title: • Teacher: Jesse Neuman • Subject: Poetry • Level/Grade: 8th Grade Humanities • New York State English and Language Arts Standard 2: Language for Literary Response and Expression Students will read and listen to oral, written, and electronically produced texts and performances from American and world literature; relate texts and performances to their own lives; and develop an understanding of the diverse social, historical, and cultural dimensions the texts and performances represent. As speakers and writers, students will use oral and written language that follows the accepted conventions of the English language for self-expression and artistic creation (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/nysatl/engstand.html)
2. Aim Students will be able to identify themes and symbols in Pedro Pietri's Puerto Rican Obituary connect the poem's message to their own lives synthesize personal poems in a similar vein
3. Essential Questions: What does Pedro Pietri have in common with me and my life in NYC? Who is Pietri speaking to and who is he speaking for? How can his work influence my own writing?
copy of Pedro Pietri's Puerto Rican Obituary (1 per student) video of Pietri performing poem + media projector read by author read by Flaco Navaja read by Piri Thomas background information (1 page bullet points per student)---> see next slide 4. Teacher Preparation / Materials
Images 1 2 3 4
5. Background Information born in Puerto Rico (1944), lived worked and died in NYC (2004) fought in Vietnam war; part of the 60's cultural revolution (racial equality, freedom of expression, social progress) deemed an unofficial "reverend" by the Latino community of Spanish Harlem. co founded the New Yourican Poet's Cafe worked with the Young Lords (similar to Black Panthers) saw NO distinction between art and political activism. Pedro Pietri
List 5 adjectives that describe you / your peer group/ your community. List 5 objects that represent you / your peer group / your community List 5 people that represent you / your peer group/ your community. PROCEDURES: 6. Do Now
7. Introduction (by teacher) We all know that poetry is an extremely difficult yet liberating medium to express narrative and feelings. Historically, poetry has also been used to present political messages, as many artists have expressed pride, discontent, and a call for action. Pedro Pietri, a 20th century Latino Rights artist and activist, uses his skill to send a message both to and on behalf of his community in his poem, Puerto Rican Obituary.
Indroduce the hypothesis that Pietri's poem, is a metaphorical obituary which speaks to the legacy he feels his Puerto Rican community is leaving behind. Point out several symbols (TV's, cars, 'bullet proof' rice and beans) and themes (intra-community jealousy, working without recognition, poverty, lack of resistance) Present video clips of various readers 9. Guided Practice: Segway into a guided discussion of Pietri's poem. Solicit student reactions to the tone, vocabulary, recurring symbols, and themes. Have students read poem (individually, in small cooperative groups, out loud, etc). Solicit examples from students' lists of how their own obituaries might mirror or differ from Pietri's. 8. Direct Instruction
Medial Summary • What themes and symbols is Pietri Using? • How is his obituary reflective of the community? • What elements could you use for your own peer group / community's obituary?
10. Independent Practice Write an obituary for your peer group. Ok, if that sounds too morbid, consider it a tribute! The important idea is to describe you and your peers as completely as possible: • one page • 20 minutes • include general themes and characteristics, goals and accomplishments (NOT just individual details) • feel free to include both positive and negative aspects • remember to give the reader a real feeling of exactly how your peer group represented themselves and the impact they had on the world around them!
11. Summary / Closure Invite students to share: • examples from their first drafts • compare and contrast Pietri's work with their own • overall reactions to the activity 12. Homework: • Finish / edit first draft (to be continued in subsequent writing/social studies classes • Research and respond to another of Pietri's works, including some thoughts on how it relates to Puerto Rican Obituary.
Accomodations / Differentiated Instruction • Students with writing ability deficits may choose to present their work in oral form. • Students with receptive language / ELL deficits may write in their first language and/or choose to describe their pre-immigration communities • Students may choose to illustrate/augment their work with images which represent their thinking
13. Vocabulary: • theme (overarching plot which pervades a work) • symbol (idea or object which represents meaning outside of its literal presence • obituary (posthumous summary of an individual's life circumstances and accomplishments. • community (localized social and/or cultural group)
They workedThey were always on timeThey were never lateThey never spoke backwhen they were insultedThey workedThey never took days offthat were not on the calendarThey never went on strikewithout permissionThey workedten days a weekand were only paid for fiveThey workedThey workedThey workedand they diedThey died brokeThey died owingThey died never knowingwhat the front entranceof the first national city bank looks like JuanMiguelMilagrosOlgaManuelAll died yesterday todayand will die again tomorrowpassing their bill collectorson to the next of kinAll diedwaiting for the garden of edento open up againunder a new managementAll dieddreaming about americawaking them up in the middle of the nightscreaming: Mira Mirayour name is on the winning lottery ticketfor one hundred thousand dollars All diedhating the grocery storesthat sold them make-believe steakand bullet-proof rice and beansAll died waiting dreaming and hating Dead Puerto RicansWho never knew they were Puerto RicansWho never took a coffee breakfrom the ten commandmentsto KILL KILL KILLthe landlords of their cracked skullsand communicate with their latino souls JuanMiguelMilagrosOlgaManuelFrom the nervous breakdown streetswhere the mice live like millionairesand the people do not live at allare dead and were never alive Juandied waiting for his number to hitMigueldied waiting for the welfare checkto come and go and come againMilagrosdied waiting for her ten childrento grow up and workso she could quit workingOlgadied waiting for a five dollar raiseManueldied waiting for his supervisor to drop deadso he could get a promotion Puerto Rican Obituary (Pedro Pietri)
about the idealwhite american familywith black maidsand latino janitorswho are well trainto make everyoneand their bill collectorslaugh at themand the people they represent Juandied dreaming about a new carMigueldied dreaming about new anti-poverty programsMilagrosdied dreaming about a trip to Puerto RicoOlgadied dreaming about real jewelryManueldied dreaming about the irish sweepstakes They all diedlike a hero sandwich diesin the garment districtat twelve o’clock in the afternoonsocial security number to ashesunion dues to dust They knewthey were born to weepand keep the morticians employedas long as they pledge allegianceto the flag that wants them destroyedThey saw their names listedin the telephone directory of destructionThey were train to turnthe other cheek by newspapersthat mispelled mispronouncedand misunderstood their namesand celebrated when death cameand stole their final laundry ticket They were born deadand they died dead Is time s a long ridefrom Spanish Harlemto long island cemeterywhere they were buriedFirst the trainand then the busand the cold cuts for lunchand the flowersthat will be stolenwhen visiting hours are overIs very expensiveIs very expensiveBut they understandTheir parents understoodIs a long non-profit ridefrom Spanish Harlemto long island cemetery JuanMiguelMilagrosOlgaManuelAll died yesterday todayand will die again tomorrowDreamingDreaming about queensClean-cut lily-white neighborhoodPuerto Ricanless sceneThirty-thousand-dollar homeThe first spics on the blockProud to belong to a communityof gringos who want them lynchedProud to be a long distance awayfrom the sacred phrase: Que Pasa These dreamsThese empty dreamsfrom the make-believe bedroomstheir parents left themare the after-effectsof television programs
Works Cited Navaja, F. (Artist). (2011). Puerto rican obituary - the flaco navaja edition. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW4OPbFfL_gPietri, Pedro. (1973). Puerto rican obituary. New York: Monthly Review Press. Pietri, Pedro. (Artist). (2009). "puerto rican obituary" by pedro pietri (1973). [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCD0IsZ4HLI Thomas, P. (Artist). (2009). Piri thomas recites 'puerto rican obituary' at capicu poetry. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjgrLnC_LjE Images: 1: http://laprensa-sandiego.org/archieve/february06-04/pedro.htm 2. http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5309&news_iv_ctrl=1321 3 and 4: http://trcs.wikispaces.com/Pedro+Pietri