Question of the Day – Texts on Topical Issues for 106

Here’s a question (from Mike Laser) that might be of interest to people planning their syllabi for 106 in the spring:

“I’d like to add a few recent poems dealing with topical issues to my syllabus for next semester. (Another FYW instructor mentioned “Pulled Over in Short Hills NJ, 8:00 AM” at a seminar last year, and that’s a perfect example.)

I wonder if other instructors can suggest topical poems that have worked well with their FYW students.”

Expanding Mike’s question a bit, does anyone have suggestions for texts (any genre) that deal with contemporary issues, whether they have already taught these or are planning to?

Please comment below.


5 thoughts on “Question of the Day – Texts on Topical Issues for 106

  1. I saw this last week:

    Posted on October 6, 2014 by Apogee Journal

    by Jamaal May

    It’s funny, she says, how many people are shocked
    by this shooting and the next and next and the next.
    She doesn’t mean funny as in funny, but funny
    as in blood soup tastes funny when you stir in soil.
    Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
    A young man/old man/teenage boy walks into
    an office/theater/daycare/club and empties
    a magazine into a crowd of strangers/family/students.

    Ever hear the one about the shotgun? What do you call it
    when a shotgun tests a liquor store’s bulletproof glass?
    What’s the difference between a teenager
    with hands in the air and a paper target charging at a cop?
    What do you call it when a man sets his own house on fire,
    takes up a sniper position, and waits for firefighters?

    Stop me if you haven’t heard this one:
    The first man to pull a gun on me said it was only a joke,
    but never so much as smiled. The second said
    this is definitely not a joke, and then his laughter crackled
    through me like electrostatic—funny how that works.
    When she says it’s funny she means funny
    as in crazy and crazy as in this shouldn’t happen.
    This shouldn’t happen as in something is off. Funny as in
    off—as in, ever since a small caliber bullet chipped his spine,
    your small friend walks kinda’ funny and his smile is off.

    Originally published By Indiana Review (winner of the 2013 IR Prize)

  2. A Small Needful Fact

    Is that Eric Garner worked
    for some time for the Parks and Rec.
    Horticultural Department, which means,
    perhaps, that with his very large hands,
    perhaps, in all likelihood,
    he put gently into the earth
    some plants which, most likely,
    some of them, in all likelihood,
    continue to grow, continue
    to do what such plants do, like house
    and feed small and necessary creatures,
    like being pleasant to touch and smell,
    like converting sunlight
    into food, like making it easier
    for us to breathe.

    Ross Gay
    he reads the poem here: (

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