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Lifting the Page

Lifting the Page: An Introduction

Michigan Quarterly Review Lesson Plans

Michigan Quarterly Review’s Lifting the Page project is a new series of lesson plans for readers, writers, instructors, librarians, friends, fans, and other curious parties. Each lesson plan features literature from the MQR archives, and includes multimodal invitations to engagement, discussion questions and a creative writing prompt.  

These lesson plans hope to “lift the page” – to stretch literary arts journals to new space(s) of learning, and to reveal the magic, sweetness, textured joys and critical spaces for breath that literature can hold. Lifting the Page also aims to expand community access to literature and literary arts journals, bringing more contemporary, living literature into classroom and community settings. By engaging in these reading and writing prompts, we hope readers can also figuratively “lift the page” to reveal new critical thought, new creative experiment and new questions. 

These lesson plans are designed with the current educational context in mind; as many readers and writers shift to online learning experiences, Lifting the Page provides scaffolding for learning content either individually and remotely, or within a physical learning community. Current lesson plans are designed for high school aged students, or older. 

This project stems from my own interest in creative writing pedagogy, and the belief in using contemporary literary arts journals as teaching tools. Michigan Quarterly Review’s rich history of publishing poets, writers, visual artists, and writers-in-translation makes it a powerful platform for learning within – and beyond – a classroom space, and further understanding our roles as readers and writers of print and digital literary culture.   

In designing these specific lesson plans, I thought about what I wished I had known as a younger Michigan-based writer. I wished I had known that I hail from a tradition of living, breathing people – people who write, who take out the trash, who eat their popcorn in silver bowls. I wish, too, I’d read more translated works – writing and writers working in modes beyond English, so that I could start to unlearn and re-interrogate my own relationship(s) to language, linguistic hierarchy and power. I wish that I had been able to envision literature in a community setting, rather than a solitary vacuum. I would have loved to learn, sooner, that literary journals exist, so that I could imagine writing into a long lineage of writers who are – and have been – actively making and moving their lives beyond that of a writer’s desk. 

The lesson plans featured in Lifting the Page hope to encourage a sense of courage, openness, urgency, and experiment. They hope to provide space to read and learn literature globally and locally, and to recognize the writing process as mobile and alive. These lesson plans are offerings: have fun!

Carlina Duan, May 2020

You can access each lesson plan as a PDF through the links below. Please contact for information about discounted MQRs for classroom use. 

Unit 1

Voyage Making from What Does Europe Want Now?, Fall 2019
With poems from Marianne Chan and Daniela Danz 
Talking to the Water: Narratives of Flint from Flint and Beyond, Spring 2016
With a poem from Tarfia Faizullah 
Ode to Home(s) from The Great Lakes: Love Song and Lament, Summer 2011
With poems from John Repp and Margaret Noori

Unit 2

Two Truths, One Lie from Summer 2020
With a story from Glenda Conway
Self Portraiture from Summer 2020
With poems from Yusef Komunyakaa and Lesley Wheeler