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Two Poets, Drawn by History, Headline Thursday’s Lowell Poetry Reading

Arts & Culture

Two Poets, Drawn by History, Headline Thursday’s Lowell Poetry Reading Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Balakian and Susan Barba (GRS’12) are noted for chronicling the Armenian genocide in their work

A generation separates Armenian-American poets Peter Balakian and Susan Barba, yet their stories have striking similarities. Both grew up hearing about grandparents who had survived the Armenian Genocide, which claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people during World War I. Balakian heard only bits and pieces of his maternal grandmother’s past—it was years later when he learned she had been her family’s sole adult survivor of a death march orchestrated by the Ottoman government. Barba’s grandfather was more forthcoming about the atrocities he witnessed. 

“I think Americans could find more common ground of mind and imagination if they read poems as a constant part of living—the way they watch movies or TV or read the news,” says Peter Balakian, whose collection Ozone Journal won the 2024 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Photo by Mark D’Orio

Both Balakian and Barba (GRS’12) will read from their work Thursday, February 18, at 7:30 pm at this semester’s virtual Robert Lowell Memorial Poetry Reading.

Their grandparents’ stories of loss and survival and of the broader Armenian diaspora have figured prominently in each writer’s work. Bakalian’s Pulitzer Prize–winning collection Ozone Journal (University of Chicago Press, 2024) recounts the speaker’s experience excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in the Syrian desert with a crew of television journalists in 2009. The poet’s 1997 memoir, Black Dog of Fate, revisits his childhood and the unspoken losses his maternal grandmother suffered. He also wrote the nonfiction book The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, and was one of the translators of a first-person narrative by his great-uncle Girgoris Balakian, Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide.  

“In the late 1970s, I began writing some poems that were engaging a history that preceded my life,” Balakian says. “That history was animating me largely through my knowledge of the experience of my grandmother’s Armenian Genocide survivor story, an experience that had been conveyed to me in various indirect ways or veiled gestures such as my grandmother’s folktales and dreams.”

In “Andranik,” the poem that forms the center section of Barba’s debut collection, Fair Sun (David R. Godine, 2023), the speaker (her grandfather) describes watching as his father was murdered by a group of Kurds, who took his clothing, leaving nothing behind. 

“From a young age, I remember him telling stories of his survival, and hearing these horrific, brutal stories was an everyday part of my existence, but so were his stories of the homeland he had lost, the folktales, the poems, and scripture he knew by heart,” Barba says. 

“The Armenian Genocide of 1915 involved lethal cultural forces the modern world is still trying to comprehend,” says Robert Pinsky, a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English, and three-time US poet laureate. “Peter Balakian’s poems and prose are recognized as the most valued understanding of those forces in the English language—an understanding that ranges from the specific origins in Anatolia to recent American and world history.”

In her own generation, Pinsky says, Barba “extends Armenian history, and the legacy of the Genocide, into new, personal terrain. 

“Her work, like Balakian’s, has a particular relation to the realm of literature: a first, preparatory step of the mass killing was an attempt to round up and suppress intellectuals, writers, teachers—all the world of literacy in the targeted ethnic group.” 

Balakian, Colgate University’s Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, has written seven poetry collections. He says all kinds of histories—not just the Armenian diaspora—have interested him as a poet, among them World War II, the AIDS epidemic, and New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.

“Poets should write about what moves their imaginations and what draws language out of them,” Balakian says. “I’ve been drawn to some of the realities and histories for many reasons. Those histories and human dilemmas are rich with meaning and complexity, and they prod my imagination.” 

He cites the long literary tradition of poets who have navigated history “for its depth and meaning,” dating back to Homer and Virgil and including such contemporary poets as Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks, Derek Walcott (Hon.’93), and Pinsky. 

An outspoken critic of the Trump presidency—one the poet described in an interview as “mired in corruption, incompetence, and astonishing assaults on democratic institutions and norms”—Balakian was a founding member in 2023 of a group called Writers Against Trump, now called Writers for Democratic Action, which numbers over 2,000 members. “One need not write about politics to be part of the organization,” he says. 

Balakian says he’d like poetry’s role in civic life to be larger than it is at present. “I think Americans could find more common ground of mind and imagination if they read poems as a constant part of living—the way they watch movies or TV or read the news.” 

Susan Barba (GRS’12) says that her poems often start “with an image, a scrap, a word or phrase, a fact that I need to archive in my memory.” Photo by Sharona Jacobs

Barba’s poems, too, address pressing social issues. Her latest collection, geode (Black Sparrow Press, 2023) is a meditation on the environment, the climate crisis, and man’s relationship to the natural world. The poems, writes poet Rosanna Warren, who taught Barba at BU, are “an eerie mix of delicacy and terror.” Barba says she hopes readers feel a sense of urgency in reading geode, “because that is what I felt writing the poems—that there was not a moment to be lost, and while this urgency creates great anguish, I hope it’s not only the urgency and anguish that readers are left with…in the end, I wanted the book to be an ode to Earth, not an elegy.” 

Growing up, Barba says, she dreamed of being an archaeologist or a biologist. It wasn’t until she was an undergrad at Dartmouth, taking courses with poets Tom Sleigh and Cleopatra Mathis, that she set her sights on poetry. 

She says she finds inspiration in unpredictable places.

“Sometimes it’s generated by an encounter with beauty, in art or in nature, an impulse to praise, and sometimes it’s generated by confusion, by anger, an impulse to protest or to mourn or to understand something,” Barba says. Often it starts with an image, a scrap, a word or phrase, a fact that I need to archive into my memory, and in order to do so, I need to weave it into what’s already there, like a bird building a nest, to create this made thing.”

A successful poem, she says, is one “that’s alive, that you experience, that sets your neurotransmitters humming, that gets the serotonin pumping in your body.”

The Robert Lowell Memorial Poetry Reading, being held virtually over Zoom, is tonight, Thursday, February 18, at 7 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Find more information and register here. The readings will be followed by a Q&A. 

The Robert Lowell Memorial Reading series was established by Nancy Livingston (COM’69) and her husband, Fred M. Levin, through the Shenson Foundation, in memory of Ben and A. Jess Shenson.

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How To Put Two Pictures Side By Side On Iphone

Photo collages can help convey a lot of information in a single image. They can help you display transformations, comparisons, and a lot more. Apple has a fairly decent photo editor in the native Photos app that helps perform most common editing tasks with ease. However, as you might have noticed,  the native editor does not offer a way to put two pictures side by side on your iPhone. So how do you do it? Let’s find out!

How to put two photos side by side on iPhone

The best way to put two pictures side by side is by creating a dedicated shortcut that can be accessed through your share sheet. This will automate the combining process, allowing you to easily combine two pictures whenever needed. You can also use the Pages app to combine two images and store them on your iPhone.

Lastly, if you’re looking for more creative control over your edits, then you can opt to use a dedicated third-party image editing app. Here’s how you can use either of these methods to combine two pictures on your iPhone.

Related: How to clear space on iPhone

Method 1: Using the Shortcuts app

Use the steps below to create a dedicated shortcut that will help you combine two pictures side by side on your iPhone.

Step 1: Create the Combine Photos shortcut

Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone and tap the + icon. If you had deleted the app on your iPhone previously, you can use the link below to download and install it.

Now tap + Add Action.

Use the search bar to search for Select Photos. Tap on the same once it shows up in your search results.

Ensure All is set for Include and turn on the toggle for Select Multiple.

Use the search bar at the bottom to search for Combine Images.

Tap and select Combine Images from the search results. 

Ensure that Combine is set to Horizontally. If you don’t wish to combine images horizontally, tap on it and select your preferred image orientation.

Select the space you wish to appear between the two combined images. If you don’t wish to space your photos, you can set this value to 0.

Now use the search bar at the bottom again and search for Save to Photo Album. Tap and select the same from your search results.

Tap Recents and select your preferred album where you’d like to store your combined images.

Tap the default name at the top and select Rename.

Now type in a preferred name that you’ll be able to easily identify in your share sheet.

Tap the name again and select Choose Icon.

Tap and select your preferred glyph and background for your shortcut. 

Tap the Share icon at the bottom.

Select Add to Home Screen.

Tap Add to confirm your choice.

Tap Done.

And that’s it! The shortcut will now be created and added to your home screen. 

Step 2: Use the Combine Photos shortcut

Tap the newly created shortcut icon on your home screen.

Tap and select the two images you wish to combine and put them side by side.

Tap Add.

The shortcut will perform the action and give you a confirmation notification once the process is complete. 

You can now navigate to the chosen album in the Photos app to find your combined image.

And that’s how you can use the shortcut to combine two images side by side on your iPhone.

Related: How to merge duplicate photos on iPhone

Method 2: Using a third-party app

You can also use third-party apps to put photos side by side. Use either of the apps mentioned below to help you along with the process.

Option 1: Using Layout

Use the link below to download and install Layout on your iPhone.

Open the app and grant it permission to access your Photos. Now tap and select your preferred photos that you wish to place side by side.

Scroll through the layouts shown at the top, and tap and select the side-by-side layout.

You can now drag and swap positions for the photos if needed.

Tap Mirror or Flip if you wish to use either of these features for your photos.

Tap Borders if you wish to use borders for your images.

Tap Save once you’re done.

The image will now be saved to the Photos app. You can also choose to share the image using one of the sharing options shown to you at the bottom.

And that’s how you can place images side by side using the Layout app. 

Related: iOS 16: How to Make Stickers from Photos

Option 2: Using Canva

Here’s how you can use Canva to place images side by side on your iPhone.

Download and install Canva on your iPhone using the link below.

Open Canva and log in using your preferred method.

Once logged in, tap the + icon in the bottom right corner.

Choose your preferred canvas size. Let’s use Poster (Landscape) for this example.

A new document will now be created, and you will now be shown different Templates offered by Canva. Tap and switch to Elements.

Scroll down and tap See all beside Grids.

Tap and select the second grid to place your photos side by side.

The grid will now be added to your canvas. Tap Spacing at the bottom to change the spacing between your photos.

Use the slider to increase or decrease your spacing as you prefer.

Tap X once done.

Tap the + icon again.

Tap Upload files at the top.

Tap and select Photo Library.

Tap and hold on to your first image. Tap Select.

Tap the second photo you wish to place side by side. 

Tap Add in the top right corner once you’ve selected your photos.

Your photos will now be uploaded to Canva. Tap on your first photo.

Now tap and drag the image over the first placeholder to place it inside it.

Drag and place the image in the second placeholder as we did for the first image.

Double-tap an image if you wish to reposition it within the placeholder.

Tap and drag the image to reposition it.

Tap and drag a corner to resize the image if needed.

Once you’re happy with your final image, tap the Export icon in the top right corner.

Tap Download.

Select your preferred format and size.

Tap Download.

The image will now be processed and exported, tap Save Image once the share sheet shows up.

The image will now have been saved to your Photos app. And that’s how you can use Canva to put images side by side on your iPhone.

Related: How to Share Photos and Videos From Camera to Shared Library on iPhone

Option 3: Using Instagram

You can also use Instagram to place your images side by side. This can come in handy if you use the social media platform as you won’t have to download any additional apps on your iPhone.

Open Instagram and swipe right to open the camera. Ensure Story is selected at the bottom.

Tap the Layout icon on your left.

Tap Change grid.

Select the last layout to place your images side by side.

Tap the gallery icon in the bottom left corner.

Tap and select your first image.

Tap the gallery icon again and select your second image.

The second image will now be automatically added to the second placeholder. Use the pinch gesture to resize your images. 

Use two fingers to reposition the images as needed.

Tap the checkmark at the bottom once you’re happy with your image.

Now tap the 3-dot () menu icon in the top right corner.

Select Save.

You can now discard your draft, as the image you will have created will now be saved to the Photos app on your iPhone.

And that’s how you can use the Instagram app to place two images side by side on your iPhone.

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How To Put Two Pictures Side By Side In Windows 11

You may have seen people sharing their before and after pictures in one single picture. This can be done by combining two pictures side by side using any image editor software. The before and after transformation is just one of the examples of combining two pictures (or more) into one.

If you want to combine two pictures and save it as one single picture in Windows 11, you can easily do so using one of the Windows built-in image editors such as Paint, or other online or offline picture editor. This guide will show you 4 methods on how to put two pictures side by side in Windows 11 for free.

Also see: How to Flip or Rotate an Image in Windows 11

The easiest approach to merge two pictures side by side is to simply use the Paint app in Windows 11. The steps below will show you how to do so.

Search for and open Paint from the Start menu.

Once the first picture is opened, you will then need to resize the canvas so that when you add the second picture, it can fit into the canvas. You can increase the canvas size by simply dragging the square box to the right. It’s recommended to increase the canvas size larger than the second picture you are going to put in, because you can resize it again later once added.

Once you have re-positioned the second picture, you can resize the canvas again to remove any extra empty space.

Suggested Guide: How to Reduce Photo File Size in Windows 11

If you find it difficult to adjust the canvas size to fit the two pictures in Paint, we recommend using GIMP instead. This app has an option to automatically adjust the canvas size to fit the pictures you add.

GIMP is one of the most popular free-to-use and open source image editor programs available for most platforms including Windows. When it comes to image editing, even for professional graphic designers and photographers, if you are looking for an effective yet free to use image editor, GIMP is likely the best choice.

To put two pictures side by side in Windows 11 using GIMP, follow the steps below.

Once installed, search for and open GIMP via Start menu.

Once the second picture is added, drag it to the right (or left, whichever side you prefer) to reposition it. The second picture will not be visible until we increase the canvas size later.

GIMP will then automatically adjust the canvas size to fit the pictures you’ve put in.

Related: How to Resize Multiple Images At Once in Windows 11

Pixlr has been a notable online image editor for many years. Although it has a premium plan that requires a subscription, most features are free to use and are usually sufficient for casual picture editing such as combining two pictures side by side.

If you don’t want to use any local app to merge the pictures, you can use the Pixlr online picture editor via a browser instead. To merge two pictures side by side in Windows 11 using Pixlr, follow the steps below.

If you have issue opening Paint in Windows 11, you can use Paint 3D instead. Paint 3D is another preinstalled image editor that comes with Windows 11. To combine pictures side by side in Windows 11 using Paint 3D, follow the instructions below.

Search for “Paint 3D” via Start and open it.

In the welcome screen, select New to start a new project.

Once added, move the second picture to reposition it to the right.

How Reading Literature Cultivates Empathy

“Nearly a quarter of American adults did not read a single book in the past year.” I was eating an apple when I read this this and I gasped and the apple piece got stuck and I ran around trying to find someone who Heimlich me and dislodge it. Although it came out, I’m still symbolically choking on this fact. It terrifies me.

Here’s another thing that scares me: the dearth of fiction in the Common Core State Standards. As most of us know, the Common Core emphasizes nonfiction text. Students will be reading informational text, speeches, short articles, and so on. There are very few novels, poems, or plays included in the mandatory readings. I’m not devastated that in the Common Core era students won’t be reading as much of the traditional cannon as they may have before. I am afraid, however, that children will have fewer opportunities to develop their empathy for others if their exposure to literature is reduced.

The Connection Between Fiction and Empathy

I remember the moment so vividly; even now, I get an achy feeling in my chest. I was ten years old, reading a book about World War II from the perspective of a German girl in Dresden. I was a voracious reader, particularly when it came to books about the Holocaust. My mother’s family is Jewish and I yearned for an understanding of that time period. This book, the girl’s narration of the bombing of Dresden, opened me up to a realm of compassion that I’d never experienced — because it was compassion for those I had considered the enemy. Before reading this book, I’d have held that those Germans deserved it, that bombing. But after, I was shattered. “Us and Them,” the blurry lines around innocence and perpetrator. That I could feel such compassion for the girl in the story and her family made me feel uncomfortable, unstable. It had been so much easier to be in a black and white, good versus evil world.

When I scan through my history as a reader, my attention is drawn to the dozens of books that I’ve read that opened me up to raw feelings of deep compassion for someone who had been “other.” Who would I be without these stories? What would I be doing without those stories?

There’s all kinds of research on this if you want more compelling and scientific arguments. See this article to start with, “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy, Study Finds,” or this research study.

Personally, I don’t need to read these articles to know that this is true or to know that it’s essential that children and adults read fiction from and about people who are different. How else will we develop compassion for African child soldiers? Or for the untouchables in India? Or for boys with Asperger syndrome? And the development of empathy, of the ability to feel someone else’s emotions or experience, can lead us to take action. If we don’t get the feelings in a visceral form, will we act to change the injustices in this world?

What Can Teachers Do?

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is the number of decisions a teacher has to make. There are the 75,000 decisions we have to make in the classroom, as well as those we make outside of the classroom. The list is exhaustive and unless we develop a scaffold for decision-making, we can drown in these moments.

A scaffold for decision-making is this: a way of thinking through the decisions that allows us to sort, prioritize, sort, and arrive at a decision without being drained of mental and physical energy. For example, we might ask ourselves, what are the consequences if I don’t respond to this issue, right now? Can it wait? Another criteria by which I assess an instructional decision is this, how will this activity help my students master today’s learning objectives? Or, how will this lesson/activity help to build a kinder, more compassionate world? Will this action/statement/book contribute to cultivating empathy in another person?

As the Common Core rolls in, we’ll have to make strategic decisions about when and how to integrate literature. I know that time for fiction will be limited, so we’ll have to be even more strategic about incorporating a poem, short story, or novel here and there. We’ll need to differentiate even more so that children can select literature to read — and we might guide them towards literature that depicts the “other,” so that we’re intentionally cultivating their empathetic skills.

Reading fiction that helps us expand our empathy for others might just be as essential as learning to read manuals, or maybe even more so. I don’t think the architects of the Common Core used this as a decision-making framework; I’m not sure it was one of their core values. But there’s enough evidence in our world today that we need to intentionally cultivate empathy, and then there’s evidence that people are reading less than they ever have; and so I’d suggest that within our decision-making spheres, we intentionally and strategically incorporate fiction into the nooks and crannies of our days.

Here Come Dat Sample Headline

Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

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Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph.

Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph.

Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Coach

Coach who died today.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph.

Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph.

Here I’m going to start writing my story. This is the first line/lede.

Here’s the second line.

Third line goes here.

Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph. Fourth line is a big paragraph.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In Costa Rica, researchers have discovered a new species of frog, and it looks remarkably similar to everyone’s favorite Muppet. Dr. Brian Kubicki, who took the photograph, named the Kermit lookalike “Hyalinobatrachium dianae” after his mother, Janet Diana Kubicki.

Here’s the end of my story. Ok it looks good. The end.

Using Instagram To Teach Poetry

The genre of Instapoetry can be a useful tool for engaging students and improving their literacy and media literacy skills.

I’m always on the lookout for engaging language arts activities. Earlier this year, while surfing Instagram, I came across a beautiful poem carefully sketched on a thematically symbolic image. Like. Share. Follow. Just like that, I became an Instapoetry junkie.

For those of you as oblivious as I was to this trend, Instapoetry has been a genuine poetic genre for quite a while now—much to the dismay of highbrow literary critics, who cringe at its very existence and scoff at its lack of depth and tendency toward digital marketing.

Instapoetry can be defined as short, free verse poems that are often paired with a symbolic sketch or shared on an image that represents the poem. Instapoets like Rupi Kaur carefully craft themes, colors, and images to suit their poetry—the work is not only about writing but also using visual art to communicate meaning. Many of the poets, including Kaur, are also artists who illustrate their own poetry, while others take “Instaperfect” photos or use carefully chosen stock photos to visually represent their poetic works.

It didn’t take me long to decide that this was something I wanted to explore with my students. It turned out to be an engaging way to combine lessons in reading, writing, the writer’s craft, and media product analysis and creation.

Studying Instapoetry as a Genre

We began our study of the genre of Instapoetry with an open mind. Using the Teen Vogue article “10 Poets You Should Follow on Instagram Right Now,” I organized students into 10 small groups to analyze the work of one Instapoet each and share their findings with the whole class.

As a class we created an anchor chart with the common elements we could identify in each of the accounts. We decided that common elements of Instapoetry included the following:

The poets wrote or shared short poems (epigrams, couplets, blackout poetry, free verse, etc.).

Each account focused on consistent themes or topics.

The poets’ Instagram usernames, or handles, reflected the topic of their poems.

Each account had consistent colors, images, and fonts.

The poems used emotional language to explore universal human themes.

Once we had analyzed the genre, many of my students became very excited and wanted to begin work on their own Instapoetry accounts—the culminating assignment—immediately. I let them start on “Becoming an Instapoet” right away; the rest of the students waited until the end of the teaching unit to tackle this final task.

Based on this experience, the next time I teach this unit I’ll give the final assignment at the outset so that students can develop their Instapoetry accounts at the same time as we work through the lessons in the unit.

Analyzing and Writing Free Verse

Once we had a good handle on the genre of Instapoetry, we took some time to study free verse poetry, reading poems and discussing poets’ use of theme, symbolism, and figurative language.

Then it was time to practice. We studied the author’s craft of various Instapoets, and students wrote blackout poetry, epigrams, imagery poems, couplets, free verse, and anagrams, sharing their work with their peers and me for feedback.

After studying the genre and getting practice with writing poems, it was time for my students to put it all together and create their own thematic Instapoetry accounts. I created an outline of an example account to show them what theirs could look like. I’m a huge fan of teacher exemplars, and it was fun to create and share my own Instapoetry with my students as we played with the genre together.

Reading and Sharing Instapoetry

The final step of our Instapoetry unit was reading and sharing each other’s work. This was by far my—and many of my students’—favorite part of this unit. I had asked students to post their poetry over the span of a week or so, and we started each language arts lesson by taking a look at a few students’ work.

I also gave students 10 minutes or so each day to read each other’s posts and like or share their favorites. We tracked everyone’s individual favorite (and most shared) poems, and talked about what made certain poems both visually and intellectually engaging. These were great conversations focused on the craft of poetry and on media techniques. We made it a bit of a contest; the three students with the most shared and liked poems got recognition and a treat from my classroom prize box.

Overall, Instapoetry made for a great unit I’d recommend to anyone wanting to spice up their language arts units. It can easily be adapted to work with younger or older students, and I’ve already thought about how I could use it as an alternative to a book report (e.g., create an Instapoetry account about the themes or characters in a novel, or create one written from the perspective of a character).

Moreover, I found that Instapoetry was a great medium for teaching theme and symbolism since students could play with these concepts both visually and in writing. It was a great interdisciplinary unit—there was a significant media analysis and product creation piece, and my students not only became better poets but developed their understanding of the complexity of communicating through social media.

Although traditional language arts teachers may shy away from this poetry trend, the reality is that students today aren’t picking up poetry volumes from dusty library shelves. Instapoetry has made poetry cool for a generation of students who wouldn’t access it on their own, so why not study it?

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