This Year's Valentine is a poem that, due to its vivid description, ample images and ideas, and effective use of alliteration, is a poem your students will really get into. Teen students also appreciate the lack of over-the-top romance that they sometimes find in other Valentines or love poetry. The reason the poem was written is interesting as well.
Here's the poem's backstory: In 2003 as American forces prepared to invade Iraq, poets began a resistance movement using poetry as their weapon. The Poets Against The War website was inundated with contributions from around the world, and before long, 13,000 poems filled its pages. Philip Appleman and his poem "This Year's Valentine" supported not only the resistance movement but also neatly fit a major theme of the month of the buildup: Valentine’s Day. This poem, despite its alarming content, is a joy to teach since students find the description and stark contrasts surprising and refreshing, and, as one of my teen students put it, “Not that typical overly mushy love stuff that makes me want to gag.” Additionally, the poem allows you to show students that creative voices have the capability to produce unity among those who support a common cause and that those combined voices can, perhaps, effect change.
• Teacher's Guide with a link to the poem that you will need to download - Easy to do!
• Close reading and Poetry Analysis handouts for students - 5 pages
• Objective Summary
• Constructed Response
• Complete Answer Keys!
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