African Praise Poetry
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 4 to 8
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||adoptive, ambition, ancestry, candy-maker, curiosity, divulge, encourager, formation, imagery, nationality, passion, passion-however, repeated, steeped, tail-pulling, aspect
||Praise Poem, Meaning Brenda
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African Praise Poetry
By Brenda B. Covert
1 How do you feel about yourself? Today we are going to explore the subject of African praise poetry, and you will learn how to reveal yourself in poetic form.
2 The African culture is steeped in oral tradition. One of those traditions is the praise song. It is a spoken poem about a person. Each line in the poem gives one "praise name." A praise name is a colorful description (imagery) of some aspect of the person. The praise song could be chanted to a drum beat or performed as a song.
3 The African call-and-response form can be used in a praise poem. The poet speaks (calls) a line of the poem, and the audience responds on cue with its line. The audience will repeat the same line throughout the poem; each of the poet's lines will be different.
4 Rhythm and sound are important, but rhyme is not. You will need to speak your poem aloud and listen for a beat. You may need to edit it for a better sound.
5 Your praise poem will describe your heritage, your unique qualities, and your emotions. Other "names" that reveal who you are could be your height, color, talent, a favored animal or natural object, and the way you walk. Your given name comes first, but there is no specific order for the rest of the lines. You may write five lines about yourself, or you may write twelve. You are encouraged to try for ten. Your words should give others a clear picture of you. However, don't feel as if you must divulge your every secret. Reveal those aspects that you are comfortable in revealing, and retain a little mystery to keep life interesting.
6 We will work our way through two versions of African praise poetry. The second version will include call-and-response lines. That will be the line your audience says. You can choose what you would like them to say about you. It should be important, since it will be repeated several times! It can be about a talent, interest, or dream for the future.
7 The easiest part of this project is the first line. That is where you will put your first name. Take a clean sheet of paper and begin.
8 The second line can reveal the meaning of your name, or interesting events about your birth. For instance, a person born in the back of a taxi could write, "Born on wheels."
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