Teaching Unit for Sand Opera by Philip Metres

Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon, 2020), The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (University of Michigan, 2018), Pictures at an Exhibition (University of Akron, 2016), Sand Opera (Alice James, 2015), and I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (Cleveland State, 2015). His work—poetry, translation, essays, fiction, criticism, and scholarship—has garnered fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, the Watson Foundation. He is the recipient of the Adrienne Rich Award, three Arab American Book Awards, the Lyric Poetry Prize, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. Metres has been called “one of the essential poets of our time,” whose work is “beautiful, powerful, magnetically original.”  He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University. He lives with his family in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @PhilipMetres.

Order Sand Opera here

Each poem is paired with vocabulary and important historical and cultural information to facilitate understanding. Every poem has scaffolded questions to get your students thinking critically using the following categories:

  • Initial Understanding
  • Interpretation
  • Reflection
  • Extended Response Writing Prompt

Check out this sample lesson for one of the poems in Sand Opera.

And this is just ONE of the many many lessons for the poems in this book. The entire unit is 50 pages long! What an amazing resource for a beautiful and important book of poetry.


If you want more lessons on teaching poems by Philip Metres, check out this post on two poems from his book Shrapnel Maps.

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