by JoAnn Pelliccio

SUBJECT AREA: Multicultural Education, Poetry Appreciation and Poetry Writing

PUBLISHER: Sunburst Communications, Inc. (800)321-7511

COST: $79.00

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Junior High/High School

NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: 68030 Macintosh or higher, System 7, Double-speed CD-ROM drive, QuickTime 2.1 or later, Sound Manager 3.1, and Sound Control Panel 8.0.5 or later.

DESCRIPTION: This CD-ROM contains audio recordings of award-winning contemporary American poems read by the poets. There are 27 poems on the subject of identity, survival and hope written by nine poets of culturally diverse backgrounds.

The setting is New York City's Greenwich Village. The program opens with video and jazz and a narrated introduction by Quincy Troupe, one of the poets. A New York City lamp post serves as the menu bar and offers many choices:

  1. A trip to Eastside Books simulates the environment of a poetry reading. Students can hear the poets read three of their poems while following the text on the screen. Each poet has a book on the book shelf which contains a picture of the poet, a brief biography and selected poems. Clicking on the poet's picture activates a screen in which the poet discusses how and why a particular poem was written. Annotated balloons which describe poetic devices such as simile or alliteration appear over appropriate sections of the poems.
  2. Students can visit The Sun Gallery, a simulated Greenwich Village art gallery, where poems are presented in connection with thematically-related pictures. The poetry-related art emphasizes theme, imagery, and the connections between poetry and the visual arts.
  3. WriterSpace contains clickable objects: a Word Generator, a tape recorder, a book, and a computer. The Word Generator creates original word combinations which the student can manipulate. The tape recorder provides the student with four types of music that will play in the background while using In My Own Voice, and it also allows the students to record their own poetry reading. The book transports the student to the Book Shelf of Eastside Books where they can access the poets and the poems. The computer is a built-in word processor allowing students to edit the poems in the program or write their own poetry.
  4. The Notepad feature allows students to record their thoughts and feelings. It helps students navigate through the program and provides a reference source for tracking the precise place the students are in the program.

STRENGTHS: This program is easy to use and very engaging. There is a Teacher's Guide with lesson plans for whole class activities, individual students or small groups. The lessons are divided into units by poet and contain additional biographical information and ideas for writing assignments.

There are many possible applications for this program. It can provide an art experience, a writing experience, and lessons in social studies and multicultural education, as well as poetry appreciation lessons.

The major strengths of this program are its powerful presentations of contemporary poetry to students and its providing of a safe place for students to be able to express their thoughts in words. The poets recite their poems exactly as intended and describe not only the meaning of the poems, but also the writing process. This offers ideas and encouragement for students to attempt their own poetry.

SUMMARY: In My Own Voice is a truly beautiful multi-media experience of art, music and poetry. Because of the cultural diversity presented in this program, whether a student is inspired by the art, the music, the poetry, or the poets themselves, this program is bound to have a profound effect. The program can be used across curriculums and, that, combined with its reasonable price, makes it an appropriate and affordable addition to school software collections.


Miguel Algarin: "On Eleventh Street, Barrio Obrero. (Sep- tember 11, 1941)," "In Santurce's Light," "At the Electronic Frontier"
Lucille Clifton: "on the inner city," "light," "this morning"
Joy Harjo: "New Orleans," "White Bear," "Remember"
Stanley Kunitz: "The Portrait," "An Old Cracked Tune," "The Layers"
Li-Young: "The Gift," "Mnemonic," "I Ask My Mother to Sing"
Pat Mora: "Senora X No More," "Immigrants," "Elena"
Naomi Shihab Nye: "Famous," "West Side," "Walking Down Blanco Road"
Linda Pastan: "Grudnow," "Rachel," "Subway"
Quincy Troupe: "My Poems Have Holes Sewn into Them," "The Old People Speak of Death," "Passing on the Legacy"

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