Students read Saul Williams’ “The Bear” (page 13), watched it, and listened to it, and wrote about unspoken, unwritten rules (what books not to admit to reading, what not to wear, how to be loyal, what feelings to hide), rules that govern (curfew, laws, when they can eat or sleep or talk inside), and rules they live by (individual morals, what they feel strongly about, who and how they are). 


Students read Danez Smith’s Dinosaurs in the Hood and watched him perform it, then wrote their own movie–or life–revisions.

GO Back

Students read an excerpt of Junot Diaz’s “Nilda” and wrote about a decision they’d like the chance to remake.


Students read some of the city descriptions in Italo Calvino’s series of prose poems, Invisible Cities, then wrote their own short pieces about their own cities, real or imagined.

Students read Dennis Johnson’s “Out on Bail” and wrote about something others didn’t know about them.

Out on Bail

Students read the final pages of Carver’s “A Small, Good Thing” and discussed how the characters were cruel because of pain they carried that had nothing to do with one another. Students read poems from The Beat, then wrote about a miscommunication or a time when actions didn’t tell the whole story.


Students wrote apology poems modeled after William Carlos William’s “This Is Just To Say”

Apology Poems

Students watched Siaara Freeman's "The Drug Dealer's Daughter" and Maxwell Kessler's "First Love," then wrote about something taboo or unspoken, either fictional or in their own lives, like addiction, an embarrassing hobby, suicide, depression, or an unconfessed love.

Performance Poetry

Creation Myths

Students wrote myths about their families and their own origins modeled after Native American and Greek cosmogony stories.

Students studied end rhyme, neat rhyme, slant rhyme, internal rhyme, and allusion in Ocean lyrics, discussed the song, and wrote their own songs in response.

Frank Ocean

Students read “Antilamentation” and integrated wordplay with prefixes, suffixes, roots, and hybrid or invented words in their own work.


FLash Fiction

Students read Lydia Davis and Chad Simpson short shorts, discussed the elements of story, and wrote their own short pieces

Students wrote short pieces, then distilled them to single sentences in the style of Hemmingway’s famous short.

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn


Students used Ada Limon’s "Someplace Like Montana" as inspiration for their own pieces about place.


Students read Richard Hugo’s “Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg” and wrote second person letters to themselves.

Students read excerpts of Baldwin’s story “Sonny’s Blues,” discussed it, and wrote their own stories.

Sonny's Blues

Students read a Kim Addonizio story and wrote about what they envisioned their futures to be in a year’s time.

New Years

Students read an Amy Hempel story and wrote a scene, focusing on vivid sensory detail, about what they imagined was happening around someone they knew.