I used an assortment of ephemeral poems in a class I taught at Emory University. Called Lines and Design: The Poetry of Digital Culture, the class studied the cultural impact of visual design in everything from pictures and paintings, to written lines of digital code and poems. Discussing print ephemera gave students a language for articulating their relationship to their own ephemeral social environments, which they explored in written assignments.
Each poem on the site forms the basis of an in-class discussion, which can also be modified for a written assignment.
- Provide a Harper poem in print.
- ASSIGN: Ask students to paraphrase each stanza using one (but only one) word from the original.
- Provide a Harper poem in its newspaper context, showing the individual page where the poem is located before sharing the rest of the issue.
- ASSIGN: Ask students to explore the newspaper, paying special attention to what is directly next to each poem and how context could affect its impact.
- DISCUSS: Ask students which edition they would prefer to read and why.