The mysterious blog of a mysterious instructor of creative writing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Your Teacher (The Ass)

Thank goodness I ran into one of my students this morning when I was walking across the street to our usual class meeting place in the basement of the performing arts building.

"Uh, Jess," he said. "Aren't we in the other room today?"

It's so completely bizarre to have class for three days in one location, then a completely random and new location on the fourth day. Last week we didn't even have class on Monday, so we've only ever been in this room once.

Today we started the imagery unit. We discussed how we, as poets, must rely on all five of our senses to create meaningful and engaging poetry. We discussed figurative vs. literal images. We read a poem and dug deeper, talked about each image and what it meant or represented to one student vs. the other.

Then my students practiced using literal metaphors in a very guideline-specific poem, prompted by some small action they'd done over the past 48 hours.

Now that we're getting farther and farther away from those tender first few weeks, I'm starting put more expectations down on our assignment sheets. I'm asking them to play with syllables, with line lengths, with sound and shape.

I remember how cramped that sometimes felt when I was a beginning writer. Just the thought of having to write against restrictions felt like a battle, when it was really trying to help me free part of my brain--the part that was struggling to make it look and sound right at the same time as getting the meaning and content right--so that I could concentrate more on the real meat of it all.

I'm going to try and tell them how much I used to hate limitations and restrictions, but how I now realize they're good and can only make for better writers. Will they believe me? Probably not. Will they write awful, evil little notes about me and my syllable counts in the margins? Could be. We'll see. Today they handled their first restrictive poem assignment like champs.


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