There are two classes in Creative Writing, CW1, and CW2. CW1 is generally freshmen and sophomores, CW2 two is juniors and Seniors. For a sophomore, graduating to CW2 is not a guarantee. Heather, our department head, judges whether or not to allow a student to graduate into the next class on a variety of factors including how they contribute to the community and their maturity and work ethic. So for a sophomore, a lot rests on their cultural heritage lesson.
Each year, every sophomore puts together a one day lesson on their cultural heritage centered around its poetry. It is, for sophomores, the ultimate chance to demonstrate to Heather their maturity and growth and with CW2 on the horizon, the stakes are even higher.
For my sophomore lesson, I decided to teach Philip Levine’s poetry on the industrial midwest. Initially, I was intensely dreading teaching my lesson. Yet as I began to work on its outline over Thanksgiving Break, I had a change of heart. Through researching the poet and Detroit during the 1940s and 1950s, (the time in which Philip Levine lived) I connected with my home state of Michigan more than I ever had before. I also discovered quite a lot about my family history as my father told me about his hometown after the washing machine company Whirlpool closed their factories, my mother told me about her time working in a Detroit factory during college, and about how my grandfather covered the raging war between the auto companies and the unions during his time as a photographer for the Detroit News.
All in all, I learned more about myself, my family, and of course Philip Levine than ever before. And when I eventually gave my lesson, it was a great time.
By Benny Leuty
Class of 2022