Discussing this poem with students is a powerful experience. Edwin Brock's, "Five Ways to Kill a Man," addresses four deadly methods society has employed when planning to destroy others. He offers these examples in a strangely casual tone, almost recipe-like with instructions and necessary ingredients.
Brock discusses ancient and modern ways of killing and finally suggests just leaving someone in the middle of the 20th century--that will do us all in.
Well, it's the 21st century and our resilient race races on.
When I discuss this poem with students we talk about his casual tone and style choices. After addressing the specific examples of human cruelty described by Brock, we also discuss updated types of cruelty he couldn't have known were coming. In contrast, it so important that we also talk about the very positive aspects of humanity that give us hope and help--and whether these could be incorporated into such a poem.
Students write and share their own stanzas for follow up discussion. Their writing is always powerful, and they remember this poem and discussion.
DOWNLOAD includes the poem, over fifteen discussion questions, a write-your-own-stanza assignment, and ideas for a bulletin board.
The lesson addresses many of the ELA standards for reading.