Poetry Education Programs
High Schools, Secondary
Poets Ray McNiece and Robert Bly, both featured
speakers, at the First Coast Conference (photo, right)
New Brochure - Poetry Theater
MORE INFORMATION on this NEW BROCHURE:
Latest, up to date, summary of Poetry Education and Poetry Theater with
current offerings. Click the brochure cover to download. Also, scroll
down for added information, but the latest is in the brochure. Please
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Ray's programs combine original poetry and monologues with song, classics,
multi-cultural works, comedy, and audience participation - this lively,
interactive mix makes writing come alive from the page to the stage.
Ray believes strongly in "edutainment," theater that enlightens as
it entertains. Performance workshops utilize kinesthetic and whole language
learning to take the students' own writing from the page to the stage. Through
that process, they develop a deeper appreciation of poetry, better language
skills, and the self-esteem that comes from self-expression. For colleges and
universities (graduate and under-graduate programs), elementary and secondary schools, Ray offers:
During the assembly program, Ray performs a collection of his own poems,
guitar-accompanied songs and dramatic monologues. This initial performance,
with audience participation, and improvisation, includes forms that the students will study in the workshops
assembly program provides a focal point to reference later techniques and
discussion. [ back to top ]
(photo, Ray autographs "The Road That Carried
Me Here" for students.
In Performance Workshops, Ray demonstrates basic
theater skills - stance, voice projection, gesture, movement - pertinent not
only to poem performance, but also to presentation of self in everyday life. The
students will memorize a poem from the curriculum using kinesthetic exercises.
The class will also script and score a poem, assigning parts and finding motion
and emotion for each line. The entire class will be involved in the staging,
rehearsal and final performance.
The writing workshops employ techniques such as poem modeling. Ray performs
an original work followed by a "quick write" session with the students
based on the same theme. Group writing exercises include games and also pivoting
from a shared focal point - a painting, event, common topic - to create a class
poem. Writing workshops also include "sourcing the poem," a four-step
process whereby a memorable image, anecdote, or family story is grounded in
sense details to become a whole poem.
Each performance and workshop session will include supplemental asides on
theater and poetry, secondary reading suggestions. Tips and techniques on
writing and performing based on Ray's own study and experience will be offered for
the student's own tool kit. [ back to top ]
Poetry residencies provide in-depth, hands-on opportunities for Ray to
kindle, develop and foster a student's relationship with language in general and
poetry in particular. Through writing, work-shopping and performing poems,
students experience the power and beauty of words, learn better communication
skills, and build self-esteem through self-expression and the completion of a
By its nature, a residency is intensive. It is interactive. It instills a
sense of purpose and accomplishment. It focuses students and opens them to new
possibilities of learning. Employing both student-centered and cooperative
learning models fundamental human dynamics. A residency is an immersion in a
process by which we discover our potential and how it merges with the learned
life around us. [ back to top ]
In addition to his exciting, interactive, K-12
Poetry Show he has toured for many years, in conjunction with the Holden
Arboretum for NE Ohio programs, Ray offers two historical character
programs: Johnny Appleseed, Thomas Jefferson.
This program is available beyond the state of Ohio. Please inquire.
This interactive experience recreates two
individuals in botanical history who have been influential in developing our
knowledge of the world of plants. Click HERE [ Historical
Characters ] for info on the programs, and to view comments and
experiences of teachers, educators, and students.
[ back to top ]
With Ray McNiece and Sean Kelly
This performance and workshop explore lyrics and music as literary
expression, showing how themes, styles, and techniques of contemporary songs
connect with the history of poetry.
The 50 minute performance covers the varieties of "guitar poetry"
that are the roots of rock and roll. From work songs (sea chanties, field
hollers) to train songs, from country to blues, from jazz to Broadway show
tunes, Ray and Joe demonstrate the styles that created and continue to inform
rock And roll.
The workshop shows the links between songs from the performance and the
diverse literary and oral traditions that comprise the American experience.
"Summertime," from the musical Porgy and Bess, segues into Van
Morrison's "Moondance," a love song in the same key. What is a love
song? A train song, "Rollin' in my Sweet Baby's Arms," transitions to
one of Woody Guthrie's dust bowl ballads and then to Curtis Mayfield's
"People Get Ready." How do these lyrics reflect the respective times
when they were composed? What is the influence of William Blake on Jim Morrison
of the Doors? How do both poets use symbolism in their work? How did the Beat
poets influence Bob Dylan? How does the lyric structure of Scottish Border
Ballads compare with Blue's format? How has the African- American folk poetry of
"the dozen's'' influenced rap? The workshop will discuss these questions
through lecture, demonstration and question and answers The workshop will also
include an audience participation finale where students will create the verses
and chorus of a song.
The performance and workshop pivot from Steven Smith's LYRICIST
encourage students to compare and contrast the songs they listen to everyday
with poems from the curriculum to gain an understanding of the power and beauty
Ray McNiece is a published poet, an actor and a folk-rock guitar singer.
He is lead vocalist for the poetry music project Tongue-in-Groove. Sean
Kelly is a singer-songwriter in the Richie Havens tradition.
He and Ray comprise the duo, Soul Surviving Sons.
[ back to top ]