Paired Epitaphs: The Classroom Graveyard

Many of the epitaphs in Spoon River Anthology cross-reference others within the collection. By reading an entire cluster of such epitaphs, a reader gets “the whole story” rather than just one character’s side of it. Now that you’ve had some practice reading and writing poetic epitaphs, it’s time to try your hand at a small collection of your own.

  1. Choose a pair (more if you are ambitious) of characters from a novel, movie, or well-known story.

  2. Write a free verse poetic epitaph for each of these characters that includes the following:
    a. Two poetic comparisons: metaphor and/or simile
    b. Parallel structure
    c. Allusion to a widely-known event or person
    d. Alliteration (keep it discreet: not ten words in a row)
    e. Rhetorical question
    f. A cross-reference to the other character so the reader knows “the whole story”

  3. Write or mount your final drafts on a pair of appropriate “headstones” of your own creation. Creativity and neatness count!
    a. When placed together, the final epitaphs should not be much larger than an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper.
    b. Decorate the “headstones” in a way that is suitable to the content of the epitaphs and to the characters about which they are written.

  4. The “headstones” with the epitaphs on them will be displayed in the classroom “graveyard”. Do your best work!

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