AP English IV Students Present Sonnets at Coffeehouse Poetry

Hailin Zhang, Managing Editor

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Saumyaa Krishnan ’18 dresses up in classic Beatnik fashion.

  • Marley Schiesz ’18 enthusiastically gives background information on the author of his poem.

  • Brian Chiu ’18 presents his project to the class.

  • Mrs. Bramlett laughs while discussing the presentation requirements.

  • Mrs. Bramlett and Ms. Lidji dress up for the first class presenting their sonnet projects.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

AP English IV classes held their annual Coffeehouse Poetry event on Oct. 23-27, in which seniors presented a sonnet (a 14-line poem with 10 syllables per line) of their choice and an analysis of the poem to their classmates. Students were also given the opportunity to earn extra credit points by bringing in food, rewriting a popular song as a sonnet, or dressing up as beatniks — young people from the 1950s and 1960s who participated in a social movement that stressed artistic self-expression. The typical attire for beatniks consists of all-black clothing, including turtlenecks, scarves, berets, and glasses.

“[The coffeehouse setting] was really nice,” Neha Maddali ‘18 said. “It set the mood for presentations and talking about sonnets in general.”

During the presentations, the room was completely dark except for some lights strung around the screen. The English teachers mimicked the setting of poetry slams; a chair was placed in the front of the classroom so the audience could focus on the presenter.

“Before I started the sonnet project, I had a semi-negative opinion on sonnets,” Baxter Gonzalez ‘18 said. “I figured they were sort of a boring, constricting art form, but [they] became more intriguing and made me understand and appreciate sonnets more.”

Many students had a different view of poetry before they were introduced to the project. Some thought it was restricting, but ultimately, the majority of their opinions changed as they spent more time analyzing their poem and learning about sonnets. Students had a variety of tasks to complete for the project, including paraphrasing their sonnets, identifying literary and sound devices, finding an accompanying poem, and marking the rhyme and meter.

“[Paraphrasing] really helped me, because [my poem] was a Shakespearean sonnet, so some of the language was hard to understand,” Audheya Mannepalli ‘18 said. “Once you start interpreting [the sonnets], it really helps.”

The goal of Coffeehouse Poetry was to provide students with an engaging learning experience and help them understand the poetry form better. The presentations served to showcase a variety of sonnets and how each student interpreted them.

“We got to hear a wide range of poetry, and there were a lot more modern poems that I had expected,” Mannepalli ‘18 said. “It was really interesting.”