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Native American Poet Assignment

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I have had the most beautiful responses from the following assignment:

"The Delight Song of Tsaoi-talee"
by N. Scott Momaday, Kiowa (Native American)

I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of the dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things
You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive

Assignment: Write 25 sentences in the style of the poem beginning with I am (writing about yourself).

(hint: give this as a take home assingment so that they can read it more than once and really have privacy and time to think about their answers)

This assignment works for ESL writers of all levels of proficiency and is particularly appealing to students whose creative impulses are a tad stiffled by learning only western academic writing techniques week after week. I have used this numerous times since I was introduced to the assignment by a wonderful instructor at the Ohio State University as his TA years ago. The results never fail to delight!

Let me know how it works for you if you try it!

A. Alexander
ESLatFranklin@aol.com

We are looking into publishing samples of these poems that the students have written for this assignment onto a website. Send an e-mail if you'd like to see or submit to it once it's ready.

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