For the Classroom

The International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) has an excellent on-line resource for teaching poetry, the Poetry Analysis Sheet, which can be used both for discussion and for writing.  This sheet can be reproduced for educational purposes and it gives students a list of questions with which to approach a poem.

In addition, here are some questions for discussion and writing that are specific to Mexican Jenny and Other Poems:

1.     Some readers have noted that images of hands circulate throughout the book.  Identify some of these instances.  What do hands suggest in each context?
2.     How are photographic images used in the book?  Discuss the use of photos in any of the poems.  What kinds of evidence are they intended to provide?  Do they fulfill their role?
3.     Write a poem or piece of flash fiction about a photograph that you own or remember. 
4.     The poem about Mexican Jenny fills in gaps in the story about a real woman.  Write your own poem, creative essay, or story about a real person and write your own version of missing parts of his or her story.  Your subject could be a public figure, family member, or even a mythic or fictional character.
5.     What does food and cooking signify in these poems?  Look at two different poems for examples.