History of the Old South

For this week we discussed a poem by Natasha Trethewey entitled “Southern History.” The poem discusses a student sitting in a history just listening to all the rubbish being spewed at them from their teacher, which they don’t believe. Being at a high school, I thought this poem would be appropriate because the students can plead their case on things they are told in school and their viewpoints on them.

In the case of the poem by Natasha Trethewey they are discussing American Reconstruction and a one-sided view of slavery and Emancipation. The poem is also a traditional English sonnet with an abab rhyme pattern and 10 beats per line, it’s crafted very well and the form doesn’t over shadowed the content. For teachers looking for contemporary poems that show this, I highly recommend.

Natasha Trethewey “Southern History”

After our discussion I challenged the students to write their own poem which talks about a time they were told something they didn’t think was true and how they responded. I also challenged them to write in couplets. Below is one response from a student in Ms. Payne’s 10th grade class.

Ms. Payne
10th Grade (8th Period)

Julian J.

Lies, after you
tell another. Eventually
it caught up with you.
It throws you in a
black hole where
you can never escape.



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.