Teach This Poem: “Sea Of The Poem (An Annex So We May Dream Backwards)” By Raquel Salas Rivera

Teach This Poem, though developed with a classroom in mind, can be easily adapted for remote-learning, hybrid-learning models, or in-person classes. Please see our suggestions for how to adapt this lesson for remote or blended learning. We have also noted suggestions when applicable and will continue to add to these suggestions online.

Featured Poem

Classroom Activities

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: Look closely at the image of the painting Merengue en Boca Chica. What do you notice in the painting? What stands out to you? What colors and images do you see? What do they make you think? 
     
  2. Before Reading the Poem: (think-pair-share) Think about the phrase “an annex so we may dream backwards.” Pair with a partner in the room. Share what you think this means. Or, join with a partner and create a line that follows this format: “The [blank] is the [blank] of the [blank]
     
  3. Reading the Poem: Silently read the poem “sea of the poem (an annex so we may dream backwards)” by Raquel Salas Rivera. What do you notice about the poem? Note any words or phrases that stand out to you or any questions you might have.
     
  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.
     
  5. Small-group Discussion: Share what you noticed about the poem with a small group of students. Based on the details you just shared with your small group and the painting from the beginning of class, how might you describe the language in the poem? How would you characterize the speaker in the poem? Why? What might this poem say about history and/or violence? 
     
  6. Whole-class Discussion: What images in the poem stand out the most to you? Why? If you could draw one of these images, how might you depict it? What do you make of the last two lines “poet of the sea, mariner; / sea of the poem, the future”? 
     
  7. Extension for Grades 7-8: In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, read more poems by Hispanic/Latinx poets. Write your own poem in response to the poem you read or write a personal response. Share your responses/poems with your classmates. 
     
  8. Extension for Grades 9-12: In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, read more poems by Hispanic/Latinx poets. Choose one author to study and create a one- pager about. With your teacher, create a classroom/school bulletin board celebrating Hispanic/Latinx authors by displaying photos, the author’s work, and your informative one-pager. 

More Context for Teachers

In A Poet’s Glossary, Edward Hirsch writes that translation is “a necessity, the only way of bridging the barriers of language.” To celebrate the translation of poetry during September’s National Translation Month—and year-round—we’ve put together this selection of poems in translation, as well as essays, lesson plans, and other resources. Choose age appropriate poems from our selection

Poetry Glossary

This week’s poetic term is translation, meaning the art of transferring a poem’s meaning from one language to another. Read more.