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  • Photography: Both Cynthia Rylant and Maggie Anderson wrote poems inspired by the photos of Walker Evans, the great Depression-era photographer.  Look at their poems in their scripts. (Cynthia: Tracks XX – XX, Maggie, Track XX).  Use their poems (with Evans photos) to inspire the students to write their own poems from photos of people they don’t know. Ask: "What’s going on here? Tell this story."


  • Drawing / Painting: All levels: Pick a reading by any of the In Their Own Country writers. Play the recording for the students. Print the reading on a handout and have the students read it.

  • Draw a pencil picture of this reading, using details the writer gave you. > Paint it, if possible.

  • Now ask yourself: Who is another character in this reading? Draw a picture from the point of view of that person. > Write a poem from their point of view. > Draw and paint, if possible.

  • Now draw a picture, using the poem as a seed, but going somewhere else. > Paint, if possible.

  • Write a poem for your “seed picture.” > Paint it, if possible.

  • In case you did all this: Make an exhibit of your three poems and three paintings.


  • Social Media/ Photography/Visual Art: Have students make social media memes of something one of the writers said or wrote, including words from the scripts. This is a good chance to talk about use of partial quotes. Also talk about copyright law. The Fair Use section of the copyright law would cover memes.


  • Drama: Make a dramatic reading or a play out of a writer’s reading or a book.  A three-person team?


  • Music: Make up a song inspired by something in a reading. It can be one line from the reading or it can be the whole reading. It is the seed for your creation. Add any details you want.


  • Drumming: Rhythm in writing is very important. Cynthia Rylant says she thinks the cadence and rhythm of her words reflect the rhythm and cadence of Appalachian speech, especially the cadence of the preacher at the small church she attended. QUOTE >

    • How do you find a good rhythm for a poem or story that’s already written?           

      • Choose a poem or rhyme your students already know.

      • Practice with one line, then another. What rhythm says what the person is saying? Divide the students into groups. They will come up with different rhythms. Listen for the way the rhythm changes the feel of the poem.

    • Do it in reverse. Start with a rhythm, then write spoken words to that rhythm.

    • You may need to back up and ask: What are some rhythms?

  • Ear writer vs. eye writer.  Keith Maillard, Track XX

  • Music: If you have a school music class, talk with that teacher about helping students create a sound track for one of a writer’s shorter works. Think about rhythm instruments. Again, how do you choose an appropriate rhythm for a poem or short reading? Practice with one line.


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