Tribute Poem: “SESTINA” by Porsha Olayiwola

Anytime I can find ways to combine poetry and basketball, I jump on it. Today’s lesson uses a poem by Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola read at a ceremony honoring the late Bill Russell at the Celtics opening of the 2022-23 season against the 76ers.

Click the image to watch Olayiwola read “SESTINA”

Skills of focus for the lesson:

  • Characterization
  • Structure – sestina form
  • Repetition and alliteration
  • Figurative Language

Sample slides:

This lesson is appropriate for middle and high school students.

Also included with the lesson:

  • Poet bio
  • Links to articles about the Bill Russell tribute ceremony
  • Writing prompt
  • Similar poems for extension

As of the time I am currently posting this, a text version does not exist (that I can find) of the poem. If I find one, I’ll update the post to include it.

Click here to access the Slides for the lesson. It will force a copy so you can edit as needed. I just ask that you keep the #TeachLivingPoets logo on the first and last slides. Thanks!

If you want more poetry lessons connected to basketball, I highly recommend this lesson with a poem about Ja Morant by Boris (Bluz) Rogers.

Thanks for supporting #TeachLivingPoets! Please consider writing a guest post to share one of your favorite lessons or poems. DM me on social media at @MelAlterSmith or email me at

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