Teach This Poem: "Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today" by Emily Jungmin Yoon

Teach This Poem is a weekly series featuring a poem from our online poetry collection, accompanied by interdisciplinary resources and activities designed to help K-12 teachers quickly and easily bring poetry into the classroom.

Featured Poem

Resource

Listen to this sound clip of a heavy snowstorm. 

Classroom Activity

The following activities and questions are designed to help your students use their noticing skills to move through the poem and develop their thinking about its meaning with confidence, using what they’ve noticed as evidence for their interpretations. Read more about the framework upon which these activities are based.

 

  1. Warm-up (whip-around): What is one word that comes to mind when you think of winter? Why? (Teachers, you might want to create a list of shared words on the board.) 
  2. Before Reading the Poem (noticing and pair share): Listen to the sound clip. What do you hear? What might be happening in this clip? Where might this be happening?
  3. Reading the Poem: Read the poem “Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today” by Emily Jungmin Yoon silently. What do you notice about the poem? Annotate for any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have. (Teachers if you feel like your students might need more information about the difference between equinox and solstice, suggest a short article on the subject.) 
  4. Listening to the Poem (enlist two volunteers to read the poem aloud): Listen as the poem is read aloud twice, and write down any additional words and phrases that stand out to you. Call back the lines that you like by saying these lines aloud with your group. 
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed in the poem with your partner and another pair of students. Based on what you just shared, what connections can you make between the poem and sound clip you heard at the beginning of class?  In the poem, what is the significance of “today,” or how might the speaker feel about today? 
  6. Whole-class Discussion: How might you compare the phrases “my heart kicks on my skin” and “my heart wears you like curtains”? What is the relationship between the speaker and the “you” in the poem? 
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: Rewrite the poem as a dialogue or interview between the speaker and the “you” in the poem. Perform your dialogue or interview for your classmates. 
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: How might the poem be different if “today” was not included or if the word were replaced with another word, like yesterday or tomorrow? Write an analytical response and share your ideas in a fishbowl discussion. 

More Context for Teachers

In her “Tiny Etude on the Poetic Line,” Heather McHugh writes, “The line is where the wish to go forth in words (along one axis of a journey) encounters the need to break off—or fall out—with words (along the other axis, a vertical)...” Read more.