One of the most complete educational resources on Robinson Jeffers was created by The Big Read staff at the National Endowment for the Arts. Under the leadership of poet and former Chairman Dana Gioia, the NEA partnered with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest to create the largest literary program in U.S. history. The Big Read gives grants to communities in order to support month-long programs that celebrate a single book or poet.
Thirty-one writers are on The Big Read list, and Robinson Jeffers is one of four poets (the others are Longfellow, Dickinson, and Poe). These educational materials were created with the support of The Poetry Foundation.
The Jeffers material includes two printable guides, one for readers and one for teachers. The Reader Resources provides an overview of Jeffers’s life and poetry designed for those with little or no knowledge of Jeffers, including students. Featuring essays by Dana Gioia, James Karman, Erika Koss, and Elliot Ruchowitz-Roberts, Reader Resources summarizes Jeffers’s lyric and narrative poetry, Jeffers’ relationship to California, Jeffers’s enduring legacy, and Jeffers’s beloved Tor House and Hawk Tower.
The Teacher’s Guide is an introduction to Jeffers for high school teachers, especially those who have never before taught Jeffers’s poetry. Most lessons can be adapted for middle school classrooms. This guide—written by James Karman and edited by Erika Koss—includes ten lesson plans on poems such as “Carmel Point,” “Rock and Hawk,” and “Hands.” Three handouts deal with important themes ideas from Jeffers, including his often misunderstood philosophy called “Inhumanism.”
A Big Read audio documentary on Jeffers, includes a biographical summary and readings of a number of poems.
Poems by Robinson Jeffers used in The Big Read materials may be read and printed through The Poetry Foundation. Additional poems are available here under Poetry and Prose. Audio and video materials, including recordings of Jeffers himself, can be found in the Selected Links.