In My Own Voice: Multicultural Poets on Identity
Company: Sunburst Communications, Inc., Dept. DF, 101 Castleton St., Pleasantville, NY 10570; Customer Service: 800/321-7511; Fax: 914/747-4109
Price: $99.00--Macintosh single user; $129.00--lab pack of five; site licenses available.
Audience: grades 7-12
Format: CD-ROM: graphics, sound, text
REPORT CARD Overall Rating Installation A Content/Features B Ease of Use B- Product Support C+ Maximum rating: 5 stars
System Requirements: Requires a 68030 Macintosh running System 7.0, 8 MB RAM, a double-speed CD-ROM drive, and a 12" monitor with 256 colors.
Description: In My Own Voice presents nine contemporary multicultural American poets reading 27 of their own poems and discussing the inspiration for their work. As they listen to the poets, students can view a selection of artwork related to the imagery and themes of the poetry. In the writing component, music creates an atmosphere conducive to writing, and a built-in audio recording feature or a text notebook records student-written poetry. Each unit in the Teacher's Resource Guide highlights biographical information about the poet, outlines discussion ideas about the themes and forms of the poems, `raws parallels in gallery artwork, and offers writing tips from the poet. Three units also contain a peer workshop.
Installation: Insert the disc, click on the installation icon, and then select any one of the three icons to start the program. If your Macintosh does not have simultaneous play and record sound capabilities, other sound functions will be turned off while you record your own compositions. If QuickTime exists in your extension folder, then QuickTime 2.1 extension will not be installed. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: The setting for this program is a cafe/bookstore in New York City's Greenwich Village. Three different storefronts and a series of streetlights serve as the menu choices: Eastside Books is where the poets read and discuss their works, Sun Gallery contains 80 fine art selections expressing the same themes as the poems, and The Writer's Space is where students can find tools to create their own poems.
The featured writers in Eastside Books represent a good cross-section of multicultural poets (Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, Native American), young and old (two poets were born in the 1950s and one in 1905), male and female. They are multitalented as well, holding such "day" jobs as college professor, band leader, playwright, and author. Before reciting a poem, the poet gives a brief introduction that is poignant, insightful, and thought-provoking, if sometimes too short. For example, Stanley Kunitz's audio introduction to his first poem is missing, and many of the clips are too "clipped," often leaving out a word at the beginning or end.
One of the features that I was particularly interested in is the Poetic Notes feature, which draws the students' attention to highlighted passages that deserve special attention or further analysis. I was disappointed to find that very few items were highlighted; in my reading of the poems, I found many figures of speech and literary devices that were overlooked.
In The Writer's Space, there are a number of useful features for setting a mood, prompting images and themes, and generating word alternatives. The four music banks are interesting, but I was thwarted in my efforts to find out more about the music. For example, three composers are acknowledged, but their compositions are not titled, and the performer of the classical selections is named while the titles of the pieces are not. …