Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Gloucester Project (part 4): Mini-lessons

As you worked on creating your real world rhetoric, we used class time to learn more about Gloucester and to learn more about the different ways people respond to living in a polis.

To achieve that goal, we completed several mini-lessons.

First, we worked on writing narratives based on research into an aspect of Gloucester: describe a character (real or invented), describe a setting, and narrate an event involving the character and setting.

Second, we worked on writing poems about the aspects of Gloucester we studied and researched. (The poetry exercises are below*.)

Third, we created satirical maps of Gloucester (or parts of Gloucester) using "Judgmental Maps" as a model.

Fourth, we studied seven Gloucester painters, eventually focusing on one painting by one artist. (Artists and questions are below+.)

You've handed in the satirical maps. Make sure you share the other activities with me by Wednesday, June 18.


+ Fitz Henry Lane
Mary Blood Mellen
John Sloan
Marsden Hartley
Edward Hopper
Theresa Bernstein
Stuart Davis
Nell Blaine

What do you notice about the painting? (subject, line, shape, color, composition)
What sort of choices is the painter making?
As a whole, what do the choices suggest? How do they affect you? (This can be quite subtle. It doesn’t have to be spectacular.)
What aspect of Gloucester is depicted? How does the painting affect how you see that aspect? (This can be quite subtle. It doesn’t have to be spectacular.)


Writing Poetry for the Cape Ann Multigenre Project

Write 2 poems that in some way address your topic.

  1. Spontaneous Poem
To activate your subconscious mind, do the following:
·         Free write about your topic for five minutes. (This is stream of consciousness writing.)
·         Pick ten vivid, interesting, revealing words from your stream of consciousness free-write.
·         In five minutes write a ten-line poem in which each line contains at least one of the ten words and in which each of the ten words is used at least once.
·         Make a title using a phrase from your stream of consciousness free-write.
·         The point of this poem is to emphasize spontaneity, whimsy, seeming randomness, linguistic daring, absurdity, surreality, etc.

  1. Metaphor Poem
·         Start with your topic. Brainstorm aspects of the topic (for example, Fitz Henry Lane=schooners, house atop Harbor Loop, oil paint, crutches, apple-peru, etc.) as well as feelings and concepts associated with the topic (for example, Fitz Henry Lane=luminism, beauty, realism, observation, etc.)
·         Then create metaphors for items in either list. For example,
o        Lane’s crutches = Lane shed wooden legs  to sit and paint.
o        The discovery of Lane’s real middle name = Lane became a new person though he’d been dead for decades.
o        Luminism = The sky swallowed a light bulb.
o        Attitude of scholars who thought Fitz Henry Lane’s middle name was “Hugh” = A boy wearing a dunce cap proudly stands at a podium to  tell everyone who can hear him, “This dunce cap is not mine.”
·         String the metaphors together. Edit them. Revise them. Expand them. Contract them. Use your ear, your mind’s eye, and your sense of the language of images to guide your revision.
·         Your poem should include at least three metaphors.

  1. Ekphrastic Poem

·         Choose an object or work of art (a photograph, statue, song, film, poem, story, painting, etc.) related to your topic.
·         Write a poem in which you respond to the work of art as if you were speaking directly to it, or as if you were an outsider (a newcomer, a tourist, a foreigner, an alien) seeing it for the first time without context, or as if you were inside the art, or as if you were the art/object.
·         In the title of the poem let the reader know what object or work of art you are responding to and from what perspective you are responding to it.
There’s a photograph-poem exercise and a poem responding to an Escher drawing later in the packet.

  1. Poem-based-on-another-Cape-Ann-poem Poem Write a poem in response to one of the poems in the Cape Ann poem packet. (In the poem, in the title, or in a note, let the reader know to what poem you are responding.)
I put an example of a Kenneth Koch poem based on a William Carlos Williams poem at the end of the packet.

  1. Traditional Form Poem (Italian sonnet, English sonnet, villanelle, sestina, tanka): Write a poem about your topic using a traditional poetry form.
Directions for traditional forms can be found at the end of the packet.

  1. Create-Your-Own-Form Poem
·         Choose a form (tanka, haiku, acrostic, mesostic, double acrostic, sonnet, villanelle, limerick, sestina, etc.) and revise the rules so there are at least three constraints* (rules), or invent a form of your own with at least three constraints* (rules).
·         Use the constraints to write a poem in response to your topic or some aspect of the topic.
·         In a note below the poem write down the three rules.

* Constraints can refer to rhythm and sound: rhyme scheme, alliteration, syllable count, stressed syllable count, etc. Constraints can refer to words and concepts: a particular word has to be in each line or stanza, a particular word cannot be used, a particular type of word (a color, a season, a name, etc.) must be used, etc. Other constraints: no words with the letter “e” or every line must have one word than the line previous or the words on the page must be arranged to look like the object being described.

 7. Visual-Found poem using your research  

  • Take five sentences directly from your research and/or from anything you’ve already written for the Gloucester Project.
  • Make the sentences into a poem by using a title, arrangement, line breaks, spacing, and font size and type. The purpose of this activity is to emphasize the visual aspect of poetry.
  • Create a title.

8. Erasure poem using your research
* Begin with a passage of text from your research.
* Erase, cross-out, or color over text to create a poem comprised of the words left behind.

Another Ekphrastic Exercise (Alternative Version of Option #3)

If you like photography you might try this…

Go Inside a Photograph
by Hoa Nguyen

For this exercise, you will need a photograph. This can be a photo of yourself, family members, or strangers. I find it most generative if there is some temporal distance between yourself and the subject of the photograph i.e.: an archival or historical photo for which you have no direct memory.

Study your photo in detail. Imagine what is just beyond the borders of the frame. If it is in black and white, imagine it in color. Assign it smells, textures, sounds. Imagine that you can step inside the frame and walk around, experiencing that moment in time.

Now begin to write. Include as much sensory detail as possible; make up other detail, speculate. Be sure to pay attention to the rhythm and sound of your lines as you lay them down. If you get stuck, try repeating a word or phrase. Read your text out loud and strike out any awkward sounding lines. Arrange the lines on the page, give it a title and call it a poem.

Here is my attempt. I chose a black and white photograph of myself as an infant, taken in Vietnam circa 1968. Notice my use of rhyme and slant rhyme (side/wide, hammock/hot/ work/ merchant, Minneapolis/ violence) and repetition (formula, white).


I'm banana shaped in the baby hammock
The floor is woven      I'm crying it is so hot
and formula fed formula so mother can work

The "papers" say occupation = merchant
she might have been a "bar girl"         stepfather is white
& black     grey & white            white things come
in snaps          pictures          a dirt road is wide
for military vehicles   oxen on the side

This is a penny strung on thin rope
Press a penny to your mouth   avoid corners
Pierce a cold cold coil (Minneapolis)
Violence contained in mashed potatoes

Ekphrastic Example (example of option #3)

Art by M.C. Escher, Copyright 1999 Cordon Art, B.V.-Baarn-Holland


The critic
resolves her sonnets
into empty feet.

The boss
rejects proposals
he has barely skimmed.

The husband
compares her pilaf
to swill for hogs.

The gas
she hopes will kill her
leaks away.

The analyst
                      unpeels her
                                              till she disappears.

Poem by Catherine A. Callaghan, Copyright 1999 Catherine A. Callaghan

Poem based on another poem (example of option #4)
The first poem inspired the second poem.

This Is Just to Say

by William Carlos Williams

        I have eaten
        the plums
        that were in
        the icebox

        and which
        you were probably
        for breakfast

        Forgive me
        they were delicious
        so sweet
        and so cold


Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams
by Kenneth Koch

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the
                                                        next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

Poetic Forms (directions for option #5)

Length: 39 lines (six six-line stanzas with a final stanza of three lines)
Rhyme scheme: none
Rhythm: varied
Other: 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243, then 364125, then 532614, then 451362, and finally 246531. These six words then appear in the final tercet as well, with the tercet's first line usually containing 1 and 2, its second 3 and 4, and its third 5 and 6.

Italian Sonnet (in English)
Length: 14 lines
Meter (rhythm): iambic pentameter
Other: volta (shift) at line nine

English Sonnet
Length: 14 lines
Rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
Rhythm: iambic pentameter
Other: volta at line nine, couplet provides closure or resolution or twist.

Length: varies
Rhyme scheme: usually ABCB
Rhythm: four-beat line followed by three-beat line, etc. (Beat=stressed syllable)
Other: ballads tell a story

Length: nineteen lines
Rhythm: usually tetrameter or pentameter
Other: The first and third line in the first stanza are repeated in several places. The first line is repeated at the end of the second and forth stanzas and in the third line of the last stanza. The third line is repeated at the end of the third and fifth stanzas and in the very last line of the poem. Here’s the scheme: A1bA2  abA1  abA2  abA1 abA2 abA1A2.

Length: five lines
Rhyme scheme: AABBA
anapestic (unstressed, unstressed, stressed syllables: da, da, DUM)
or amphibrachic (unstressed, stressed, unstressed syllables trimeter: da, DUM, da)
with three stressed syllables in lines 1, 2, and 5; and
two stressed syllables in lines 3 and 4.
Other: Limerick’s are usually playful, often absurd.

Length: three lines
Rhyme scheme: none
Rhythm: five syllable, seven syllables, five syllables
Other: traditional haiku refer to the seasons directly or indirectly (kigo), and include a “cutting word,” a break in the text (kireji).
Tanka is a variation with the following syllable pattern: 5-7-5-7-7.
Renga is linked “tanka” 5-7-5, 7-7; 5-7-5, 7-7; etc.; finishing with an additional 7-7.

Other Poetic forms

Acrostic variations: end-acrostic, double acrostic, mesostic

Anaphora (repetition of line or sentence beginnings), epistrophe (repetition of line or sentence endings)

Kerouac’s book of blues: one page poem

Olson’s projective verse (composition by field): treat the page like a musical score and/or artist’s canvas

Oulipo Experiments:
N+7: where each substantive or noun in a given text, such as a poem, is systematically replaced by the noun to be found seven places away in a chosen dictionary.
George Perec’s La Disparition (A Void in English): no words in the work include the letter “e”

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