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Poetry in Voice: Declaration of Intent (Introduction)

SUBJECTS Geography/History, Language Arts
GRADE LEVEL Senior (9-12)
PLEDGE 1 - Protection of Water

Resources Needed:

  1. Link to the poem, Declaration of Intent by Rita Wong from Poetry in Voice (includes ‘Dive In’ lesson questions by Jessica Moore used in lesson below)
  2. Watch this video to find out more about Poetry in Voice.


  1. Have students read the poem, Declaration of Intent by Rita Wong from Poetry in Voice (this could be done individually or as a class reading).
  2. Have students share their thoughts on the poem with a partner or in a small group. Take up as a class.


(Questions taken from Poetry in Voice ‘Dive In’ lesson questions by Jessica Moore)

  1. What is the significance of the word “colonial” right there in the first line / in a poem about water and the ecology?
  2. Do you see anything water-like about the way the poem is presented on the page? What techniques does the poet use to suggest fluidity?
  3. What does the poet mean when she writes, “I will apprentice myself to creeks & tributaries, streams & glaciers”? What lessons do these water forms provide?
  4. The poem plays with borders vs. fluidity, and portrays water as a great connector (of species, eras, social classes, etc.) – can you point to some sections / some ways you see her depicting the connections water makes?
  5. The repetition in the final stanza has the feel of a crescendo – how would you deliver these lines if you were reciting them? And what effect does it have on you, to read the repetition? Is this poem a call to action?

Follow Up Activities:

  1. The poet uses legal / bureaucratic language – “I hereby honour,” “I hereby evoke,” “I will apprentice myself to…” in a poem that is nevertheless very meandering and fluid (like water). Try your hand at creating a poem that blends language from another realm (i.e. legal language) with concrete and embodied imagery such as the poet has here, centering water as the theme.
  2. Have students memorize, recite and perform the poem (see Recitation ideas from Poetry in Voice).
  3. Visit Poetry in Voice for more ideas in bringing poetry and performance to your class.