Black History Month inspired Lessons by Pascal Lockwood-Villa

Starting this week, we students at Ruth Asawa School Of The Arts Creative Writing department are currently working on a two-week project on African American female authors, specifically Jeysmn Ward (Sing, Unchained, Sing) and Amanda Gorman (Call Us What We Carry). In this project, we are analyzing the works of both of these women, while also carrying out critiques and writing prompts inspired by their pieces of art. While we are only halfway through the unit, I found it appropriate to talk about some of my favorite learning opportunities which I have gleaned from these lessons. 

For starters, thanks to this unit, I got the opportunity to write erasure poems and shape poems—both of which I had never gotten the chance to experience before—and I found that these forms of writing poetry to be extremely refreshing, challenging and exciting! In addition, learning from the works of Ward and Gorman allowed me to witness the importance of their words and absorb their styles and elements into my own—further strengthening my skills. The messages behind each piece by these authors can connect to a myriad of other interpretations, but their choices of diction, tone, and theme allows their stories and ideas to be shared within the text of the page. In turn, the authors serve as conduits of sorts, internalizing the storied pasts and interweaving histories of race, culture and soul, presenting them not in separation, but as a small chunk of a larger narrative. The reason why I am so excited to participate in this unit is because, as a person of color myself, it is always satisfying to see other historically put-down people from any and all cultures or walks of life share their story. It has been a long time coming, frankly. As I relish in the memories of the prior lessons, I am hungry for more to learn, experience, and witness in my time here at SOTA.

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