The Fat Black Woman's Poems

Grace Nichols is a Guyanese poet. Born in 1950, she immigrated to the UK in 1977. She won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983. Her poetry has been taught at schools around the world since. The poems presented here are taken from the collection 'The Fat Black Woman's Poems', as they relate to the global issues presented in this unit. For the end of unit assessment, you may decide not to do your (mock) individual oral on The Bluest Eye but on 'The Fat Black Woman's Poems'. It's important to note that the work and non-literary Body of Work (BOW) that you use in you practice oral may not be used for your final oral. You may, however, use them for your Paper 2 or an HL Essay.

  1. Assign every student in your class a different poem from the list below. Study the poem that you have been assigned. Prepare to read your poem out loud in class. Record yourself reading out loud several times at home. Listen to yourself and make improvements. Read and re-read the poem. Record and re-record yourself. Do a final reading in front of class, or play your best recording. Then, in a shorty presentation, tell your classmates about what you learned about the poem, its sounds and meanings, as you went through this process.

  2. After you have listened to the reading of every poem, have a class discussion about Grace Nichols and 'The Fat Black Woman's Poems'. Explore your answers to the following questions:

    • Describe atmosphere and mood that are created through the tone of her poetry. Why does her poetry put you in this mood? How does her poetry create this atmosphere?
    • Why is it important to hear her poetry as opposed to reading it silently?
    • In what ways are one or more of these seven concepts relevant to her work: identity, perspective, transformation, communication, representation, culture and creativity?
    • What kinds of global issues does Grace Nichols explore in her poetry? Make a list.
    • How do these global issues relate to other global issues that you have explored in this unit through other texts, such as the Dove Real Beauty campaign or the opinion columns by Funmi Fetto?

  3. Listen to an example individual oral and write an outline for a mock individual oral. Base your oral either on The Bluest Eye or 'The Fat Black Woman's Poems' and the Dove Real Beauty campaign, Funmi Fetto or another non-literary Body of Work (BOW) of your choice. See the page on planning the IO and listen to an example. In your portfolio, submit your passage from the literary work, your passage from your non-literary BOW and your outline (which asks you to articulate the global issue. If you are focusing on a Dove commercial, your passage from the (BOW) may include screenshots from a commercial with captions that include transcriptions.

  4. After you have received feedback on your outline, prepare and perform a mock individual oral. Record and listen to your oral. Give yourself marks using the IO SL/HL assessment criteria. Ask your teacher to assess you. Based on his or her feedback, make improvements and do it again? If your teacher cannot listen to a second performance, record your new version and assess yourself.


IB teaching is informed by IB assessments. This pedagogical principle is about more than listening to model student orals. Rather, you should have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Redoing assignments and making improvements based on meaningful feedback from your teacher is where the learning happens. Do and redo the IO several times to get good at it.

Last modified: Sunday, 8 November 2020, 8:55 PM