Poem lesson: “Revenge” by Taha Mohammad Ali

Essential Questions:

*What is the poem about?
*What is the theme of the poem?
*How does war change a person?
*Can people truly forgive, or do they just move on?
*Does giving voice change the meaning of a poem?
*What is there to be said about history and relationships between nations?

Student Objectives and Goals / SWBAT:

SWBAT discuss and make three connections between the poems and short stories we’ve read.
SWBAT analyze the relationships between men of warring nations.
SWBAT understand and apply the turmoil of the Israeli conflict to the works covered in class.

Measurable Evidence of Student Understanding:

Graded discussion
Reflective journal

Brief summary of any background or preliminary information needed to understand the lesson in context:

Aside from their general knowledge of the Palestine conflict, we will begin with the poem Revenge, itself.

Lesson Overview:

1. Begin by reading the poem silently. Underline segments that stand out to you, that you find powerful. Comment on what you believe the theme of the poem to be and what it is “about.”

2. Give poem voice in small groups and discuss what you jotted down on the sheet as you read.

3. Play excerpt from the Dodge Poetry Festival where Ali reads the poem in Arabic and Cole reads the text in English.

4. Discuss…
  • What is the poem about?
  • What does it reveal about the speaker?
  • Who is the speaker?
  • What lines stand out to you?
  • What do you believe the theme to be?
  • How did hearing Ali’s reading of his poem differ from the way you heard the poem in your head?
  • Does hearing the poem read by Ali in Arabic affect your impression of the poem at all? Explain.

5. Power Point on the Israel/Palestine conflict

6. Discuss ending images from presentation—
  • How does your understanding of the conflict change the way you feel about the poem?

7. Introduce background on the translator of the poem, Peter Cole, an Israeli citizen, and his unique relationship with Ali, an Arab citizen.
  • What are your thoughts about having an Israeli translator for an Arabic poet?
  • Would you be able to accept this relationship if you were Ali? Would you trust that your message is being conveyed?


Read Swimming Contest by Benjamin Tammuz
Journal: Applying our discussion from class, The Swimming Contest, and the poem Revenge, how do you feel about the different feelings that have been expressed by both the Arabic and Israeli authors in their stories? Use examples to support your ideas.