Self-Learning Poetry/Workbook Introduction and Samples

Activities for Many Shades of Light

Most of the poems in this book will engage one or more of five levels of activity involving all of your independent skills in the use of the language. Read the initial directions carefully. Then follow them, step by step. Take your time. Concentrate. Focus on applying your best thinking and writing skills. You are not in competition with anyone. Each individual may respond differently. In many cases there is no “right” or “wrong” or “best” answer. Success is based on how well…and how genuinely…you respond to the poems and the activities. Think of each poem as a catalyst, an opportunity to reveal the real person that you are, or can be. Explore your ability to understand, and then…to respond with all possible skill. Do not be afraid to disagree, but do it well and with courtesy.

Your applied skills include: reading and understanding directions; thinking; making decisions; use of your imagination; your ability to be creative; comprehending what you read; organizing your thoughts with clarity; increasing your vocabulary growth; your ability to deal with both concrete and abstract concepts; the ease you can exercise in applying what you have learned, to your own life; your willingness to enjoy and appreciate what you are capable of doing.
These are the levels of activity, though each poem may only ask for one or more, depending on the content and complexity of the poem:

1. Do you understand these terms in context? Key words or phrases are designated. Use your dictionary if needed. You can give a simple definition or synonym of the term as it is used in the poem. Your understanding of, and familiarity with these terms will greatly enhance your understanding of the poem.

2. Specific comprehension involves questions dealing primarily with the content of the poem itself. Your answers will be determined directly from your understanding of the content of the poem.

3. Personal response deals more with your own thinking or individual appreciation of what the poem may trigger in your responding to what you have read. This is your opportunity to stretch, to go beyond, to explore possibilities, to expand your awareness, to think in the abstract.

4. Vocabulary growth gives you an opportunity to choose any three terms in context, and use each one in a sentence, thereby indicating your ability to actually apply the term. For flexibility, you may use any form of the term, i.e….changing a noun from singular to plural, or changing a verb ending, or adapting an adjective or adverb.

5. Bonus is a suggested activity to help you stretch your imagination, to use the poem as a stepping-off point into a new realm of your own. You may respond in any form of art: a sketch; a poem or essay or anecdote of your own; a possible oral presentation; a question for others to ponder; lyrics for a song, etc….the sky’s the limit!

Primarily…as an individual who is building a mature appreciation for the beauty of language…allow yourself to use these activities for your own personal success and satisfaction. Enjoy the extended process of learning and of reflecting who and what you are, at this moment in your precious life. Let the poems and these activities work for you. This is your opportunity to shine! And in the process…enjoy sharing the results of your work with others; it can be a lot of fun!

I wish you much success
and personal enjoyment,
Diana Hunter McGuerty

RSVP: HCR 73, Box 587, Hi-Ho Acres
San Jose, NM 87565
(505) 421-2951

“ A Woman’s Checklist ” p.7

Terms: toil.

a. What personal conflict is the woman dealing with?
b. What does she feel is truly important in one’s life?

Personal Response:
a. Have you encountered a similar conflict?
b. Does an individual owe more responsibility to satisfying the needs of others, or one’s own needs?
c. If you were to write a checklist for today, what would it contain?
d. Do you have any “private drives” which you would like to fulfill?

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: How would you advise this woman, in resolving her conflict?


“ Treasure ” p.8

Terms: moat, undulation, cherish, memento.

a. What mood or tone has the writer created?
b. What do the waves represent?
c. What treasure might the waves leave?

Personal Response:
a. Have you ever walked on a beach, or imagined doing so?
b. How did this poem make you feel, as you read it?
c. Has life given you a special treasure to cherish?

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: Describe a place which was ( or is ) special to you.


“ I See The Sun ” p.9

Terms: vantage, pinnacle, awesome, scope, surf, miniature, symmetry, buffeted,
pungent, russet hue, sage, eucalyptus, overwhelms, undiminished, benevolent
interpret, transcending, mundane.

a. What is the writer’s general feeling about this place?
b. What does the writer compare this experience to?
c. Who was this experience provided for?

Personal Response:
a. How can a person learn to appreciate one’s physical environment?
b. Is it possible to actually enjoy being alone in the outdoors?

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: What could you do, at this point in your life, to build a greater appreciation
for yourself as an individual?
In what kind of surroundings do you seem most at ease?


“ One Night Past ” p.10

Terms: crooning, plaintive.

a. What tone does the writer present?

Personal Response:
a. How would you describe your relationship to night time, i.e…
fear, anxiety, relief, peace, etc.?

Vocabulary Growth.

“ Afternoon at the Lake ” p.10

Terms: sauntering.

a. What personal value or relationship is depicted?

Personal Response:
a. Have you a special experience or memory involving a family member
that you would like to share?

Vocabulary Growth.

“ Valentine’s Day 1985 ” p.11

Terms: invoke, pungent, brittle, Connecticut, challenging, thriving, munitions, World War 11, ravine, skunk cabbage, violets, emerald, amethyst, tomboy, relief, Chevy, timber aroma, rattletrap, masculine, savoring, anticipated, dill pickle, delicatessen, beguiling aroma, plump, smudge, dump, grit, fumes, tantalizing, sensual, salt water taffy, sodden, Rheingold, ginmills, boilermakers, hovered, low tide, strolling, marsh flats, retreated hastily, reluctant, transformation, bachelor, fragrant, lilac, incense, emanating, fir, bouquet, Coors brewery, hazy, New England, landscape, colonial, basking, exhalation, Yankee, ambling, marine, redwoods, residing, groves, unique essence, captivates, ingrained, aromatic, vineyards, exhaling, spellbinding, distinctive, seduction, exotic, beguiling, ancient, peninsula, passion fruit, papaya, lured, enticed, sage, lush, avocado, intoxicating, revitalization, reverie, Santa Ana breeze. (whew!)

a. What physical sensation calls forth memories?
b. Name three sources during her early years.
c. As a young married woman, name one source.
d. What aroma brings her back to the present time?

Personal Response:
a. By and large, would you consider her memories happy ones?
b. Were any of her memories somehow familiar or similar to your own?
c. Describe a special sensation memory of yours.

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: Select any sensation ( sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, etc.) and create a presentation of your own, using any creative form.


“ The Tiger and the Huntress ” p.13

Terms: lean, silhouette, dusk, musk, utters, compelling, vague images, enabling, stalk.

a. What mood is created through the poem?
b. What objective do each of the characters share?

Personal Response:
a. What would you consider as being “romantic”?
b. What is your interpretation of this poem?

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: Create your own question dealing with this poem, something for the reader to consider.


“ The Unicorn Does Not Exist ” p.13

Terms: myth.

a. What emotions are being exhibited by the writer?

Personal Response:
a. How would you advise this writer?
b. What part do the following play in human life: disappointment, reality, loneliness.
c. Who or what do you think is responsible for one’s happiness?

Vocabulary Growth.
Bonus: What part do myths and legends play in your life?

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One Response to Self-Learning Poetry/Workbook Introduction and Samples

  1. Thank you “Free Japan”. I appreciate your words of encouragement.

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