Harlem Renaissance Poetry Memorization Project

Click this link for a PDF of the Harlem Renaissance Poetry Memorization Project & Rubric. Poems will be recited in class April 7-10.  Days will be assigned but students will picked randomly on each speaking day.

In this project, you will memorize and recite a poem from the Harlem Renaissance. This means that you will need to practice and become familiar with all the words and pronunciations as well as the overall meaning of the poem.  Understanding the poem will allow you to place pauses and emphasis on key words in the right place.  

I will be grading you on your volume, speed, pronunciation, eye contact, and of course full memorization of the piece.  Practice in front of a mirror, a friend, or family member.  Make sure you know the correct pronunciation of all the words; sometimes this can be tricky!  Refer to pages 1110-1111 in the text for more tips on reciting literature.

If you do not present your poem on the assigned day, your grade will be reduced by 10%.  If the poem is not memorized to completion, you will only receive 50% of the points.  Extra points can be earned from costuming, props, or creative presentation style (see rubric for more details).

Your two poem choices are “I, Too” by Langston Hughes or “Tableau” by Countee Cullen.  Both are posted below.

I, Too
By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Tableau
By Countee Cullen

Locked arm in arm they cross the way,

The black boy and the white,

The golden splendor of the day,

The sable pride of night.

From lowered blinds the dark folk stare,

And here the fair folk talk,

Indignant that these two should dare

In unison to walk.

Oblivious to look and word

They pass, and see no wonder

That lightning brilliant as a sword

Should blaze the path of thunder.

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