One of the most rewarding aspects of creating poetry comics for me is hearing from teachers all around the world, from Armenia to the Philippines to Spain to right here in Montreal, that are using my work as a learning tool in their high school, college, and university classrooms. Over the last couple of months I have been in correspondence with a teacher at Collège Anna de Noailles near Brive (Corrèze, France), who has been using my comics adaptation of John McCrae’s iconic poem “In Flanders Fields” as a means of engaging her students with the history and literature of the First World War. This teacher, whose name is Claire, teaches English to the students of 3ème 1 and 3ème 6 in this public middle school named after a wonderful and beguiling French poet from the turn of the twentieth century, and located just outside the town Brive-La-Gaillarde, whose market provides the setting for Georges Brassens’s famous song “Hécatombe.”
With Claire’s permission, I am outlining the exercises she used in the hopes that they might provide useful inspiration to other instructors looking to integrate poetry comics into their teaching program. To begin with, Claire cut out each of the individual panels from reproductions of my comics with the textual elements removed, and then asked students to identify which passage of McCrae’s poem the imagery in each of the randomly shuffled panels is meant to accompany. After that, students were asked to write a short realistic text to match each panel. Finally the students were given the task of analyzing the cover image of my comics adaptation, which I’m reproducing below, along with some pictures of the corrected student assignments.