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ERIC Number: EJ826100
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-0013-8274
Reading and Becoming Living Authors: Urban Girls Pursuing a Poetry of Self-Definition
Wissman, Kelly
English Journal, v98 n3 p39-45 Jan 2009
When Don Imus made his infamous comments about the Rutgers University women's basketball team in 2007, he provoked widespread (yet short-lived) attention to the circulation of language practices demeaning to women of color. In an elective autobiographical writing course that the author designed with and for urban high school girls, the students read and wrote poetry as a way to reflect on and resist these "words that wound". When she introduced living authors into the curriculum and when the students' writing became central texts of the course, the students began "talking back" (hooks) to slurs and stereotypes. The girls also wrote poems to generate more affirmative images of who they were and who they were becoming. This article discusses how the author used the poems of living female authors of color to help her students compose poetry to represent themselves "on their own terms." The girls' poetry of self-definition offers insights into their perspectives that are often unrecognized, distorted, or devalued in broader public discourses. Their writing also provides further insight into the possibilities of framing English education as oriented toward social critique and change. (Contains 1 note.)
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A