I thought it might be fun to write stories about some of Ricky Riccio’s individual assignments that made their way into Unlocking the Poem—and this post will be the first of several to do just that.
One assignment that sticks out—in a distinctly positive way—consisted of a sentence Ricky gave to his students to use as the title or first line of a poem: Do not give me things unbroken. Like so many of Ricky’s assignments, this is but a brief snippet from which poems could emerge . . . and emerge they did! For weeks, students returned to workshop with additional “do not give me things unbroken” poems . . . and many of the poems were truly inspired.
We, the students, were so excited by what was happening that five of us decided to collect these poems and publish them. We put together a poetry anthology called (of course!) Do Not Give Me Things Unbroken, containing poems from 54 different authors; we dedicated the volume to Ricky and his teaching. (You’ll see this assignment as Assignment Number 417 in Unlocking the Poem, “illustrated” by several poems previously published in Do Not Give Me Things Unbroken.)
Among the poems produced in response to the assignment, we had free verse and villanelles, concrete poems, prose poems, sestinas and sijo—a vast richness of the many different poetry forms Ricky had exposed us to. (Ricky was the first to show me these forms, and I am deeply grateful; for those of you not familiar with them, you can find information about them all in Unlocking the Poem.)