This Poetry Month, invite a rapper into the classroom (Yes, really)
By Rachel Borthwick

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His soul’s escaping through this hole that is gaping,
This world is mine for the taking, make me king.
As we move toward a New World Order,
A normal life is boring; but superstardom’s
close post-mortem, it only grows harder.

Twenty-one years ago, a poet by the name of Marshall penned the above stanza. It formed part of a biographical documentation of a difficult life and explained the way he was taking steps to free himself from his struggles.

If the words sound familiar, it is with good reason. Marshall is none other than Marshall Mathers III, better known as the American rapper: Eminem.

Admittedly, Eminem may seem an odd choice as an ambassador of poetry. But his mass appeal and lyrical genius is just the ticket to making poetry accessible to students. He’s been crowned several times over as the King of Hip Hop and has long led the way to championing rap and hip hop as an art form (whether he meant to or not).

While still often dismissed as misogynistic, racist and profane, the links that hip hop and rap have to poetry are fast becoming recognised.

Just this week, ABC Radio National’s Patricia Karvelas interviewed Sukhdeep Singh, a poet, who reiterated the undeniable link between poetry and hip hop.

He pointed to the obvious comparisons that can be drawn between the two, such as rhyme, rhythm and flow. In addition, he was quick to point out that both are vehicles for the coming together of communities where the personal challenge is to defy expectations placed upon them by others. ‘You manifest something from zero; that’s poetic,’ he said.

With that in mind, it’s high time to embrace poetry as a fun, engaging and challenging inclusion in your school programs. 

Why? There’s a few key reasons:

  1. Children adore rhyme. The predictability of rhyming couplets empowers students to make educated guesses during read-aloud sessions.
  2. Teachers can feel intimidated by poetry. Help them to meet the challenge head on by including what is considered by many to be the most sophisticated genre of literature in your program.
  3. It provides a ‘hook’ for complex ideas or content. Engaging students through poetry is an excellent way to assist students to make meaning.
  4. Poetry is memorable. Roses are red, violets are blue. Rhyme is clever, the words stick like glue. See what I did there?
  5. Incorporate students’ interests into their learning. There’s no need to stop at hip hop and rap. Students can be encouraged to explore their favourite music artists (regardless of genre) and study their lyrics.
  6. Finally, the Australian Curriculum mandates poetry at all year levels, recognising both the importance of poetry and the appeal of different forms to different age groups.

At Kimberlin Education, we are master storytellers. We love a good rhyme and pride ourselves on our ability to bring concepts to life for students through poetic narratives.

Have you got a great idea that you’d love to launch in schools, but weren’t really sure how? Celebrate Poetry Month by partnering with us to create a program that really speaks to students.

Want to know more? Take a look at what we have done for Lendlease and then get in touch with us, today!

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