1. Find a model chant you like, perhaps N. Scott Momaday’s poem “The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee.” The primary repeating line in Momaday’s poem is “I am.”
2. If possible, find a recording of such a chant. Listening to a chant being recited gives students the best sense of the form. One good example is the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina on “Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico” (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 1957). If you use this recording, you might also want to read Anne Waldman’s poem, “Fast Speaking Woman.” Sabina’s chants inspired Waldman to write this poem.
3. Make sure that students notice the repeating lines of the form.
4. Ask students to write their own chants using a repeating line, either one from the model chant or one you give them.
Adapted from the WritersCorps publication “Jump Write In!“