This classroom discussion-oriented lesson, which takes between sixty to seventy minutes, involves close-reading of texts, use of evidence to convey an interpretation, and discussion of authorial purposes and techniques. Students use poet Richard Hugo’s theory of poetry having both a “triggering subject” and an “actual subject” to analyze and respond to example poems selected by the teacher. The end goal is to engage in a discussion of how poets use observation and experience to take sometimes everyday moments and convert them into thoughtful, surprising, and moving commentaries. This lesson is well-suited to preparing students to read poetry more effectively and thoughtfully for the Laureate Project assessment (also available on the Digital Commons). It has also been used in creative writing classrooms for teaching poetry composition. This lesson is suitable for grades 9-12.
Townsend, Tracy A., "Triggering Subjects v. Actual Subjects" (2012). Understanding Poetry. 7.