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"Music Be the Food of Love": Found Poetry with Shakespeare and Hip Hop

Teachers' Rating:
  23 ratings

Secondary School Shakespeare Festival

June 2006
Jacqueline Lawton, Folger Shakespeare Library. Emily Schuster, Folger Shakespeare Library.


Plays/Scenes Covered
This lesson uses lines from a variety of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
What's On for Today and Why

In this lesson, students will create found poetry using lines from hip hop songs and Shakespeare’s works. This activity will help them to demystify Shakespeare's language by juxtaposing it with contemporary poetry (hip hop) that is accessible to students. They will evaluate how Shakespeare and hip hop artists use literary devices to express their ideas about love.


This lesson will take one class period.

What You Need

Paper bags
Glue sticks
Paper or card stock

Found Poetry
What To Do

1. Divide students into groups of four or five. Give each group a paper bag, scissors, and the six-page Found Poetry handout (attached below). Have students cut out all of the lines on the handout and place the strips of paper into the paper bag. They should shake the contents of the bag well.


2. Next, have each group randomly draw ten lines of poetry out of the bag. They should glue them onto a piece of paper in the order in which they drew them out of the bag. (The lines in plain font are from hip hop songs; the lines in boldface are from Shakespeare’s plays and poems.) Have a volunteer from each group read or rap the resulting “found poem” to the class.


3. Then, have each group repeat the activity, drawing new lines from the bag. This time, have them arrange the lines of the poem in any order they like.


4. As a class, discuss how hip hop artists and Shakespeare have used language to talk about love. How are their lyrics similar and different? How did they use literary devices such as alliteration, metaphor, simile, personification, rhythm, and rhyme? Do some Shakespeare lines sounds like they could be from a hip hop song? Do some hip hop lyrics sound like they could come from Shakespeare? Did the modern lines and Shakespearean lines go well together to form a poem?


(For more lesson ideas using hip hop and Shakespeare, go to "M.C. Bard: Hip Hop and Shakespeare .")

How Did It Go?
Were students able to identify literary elements in the hip hop lyrics and the Shakespeare text? Were students able to compare hip hop and Shakespeare as works of poetry? Were students more comfortable with Shakespeare's language by the end of the lesson?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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