Ready to start writing your first draft?
If you’re writing about more than one object/artwork/landscape, remember that you’re choosing just one to write about for this week. It can be any one. Go with whatever feels most urgent to you.
REQUIRED: Take the first object, painting, text, etc. – and start by writing a 1-paragraph prose description that is literal and concrete, just as we did in class. This is for your use only and won’t be shared with others. Be physical and literal. What does this look like, feel like? How big is it? What function does it serve? How would you describe it to a stranger who hasn’t seen it before? You can also incorporate the context for your looking: How did you find it? Where are you? What time of day is it?
OPTIONAL: (use any of the below for inspiration if you want)
Do the exercises we did in class: (1) this reminds me of…, (2) this is not, (3) memory of something “unrelated” that I did or saw recently.
Follow the structure of one of the 3 poems we talked about. See your handout. Example: “Soldiers Washing” starts with a sentence that feels like a universal statement rather than a description of painting (“Even washing is a task…”). Then it goes into a vivid sensory elaboration of that statement that leads to another summary conclusion. Only then does it wind into a more concrete description of the painting and our relationship to it.
Somewhere in the poem, make at least 1 personal statement about yourself. This could be a state of mind/feeling, a desire, a self-judgment, a narrative. Example from Wright poem we read: “Day after day, I become of less use to myself.”
If you’re struggling to find a way in, start by thinking about WHAT QUESTION does this object raise for me? What don’t I understand or know about this object, or my responses to this object?
If you want to read more about ekphrastic poems, this entry by the Academy of American Poets is really useful.
What were those Workshop Guidelines again?
Workshop will have 2 parts: Each class 5/6 people will be workshopped, 10 minutes each, 1 poem each. Everyone will have 2 times to be workshopped in this way. In the last class we’ll probably do a quick portfolio “workshop” of everyone to talk about your drafts as a whole. You’re on Team A or Team B. I’ve moved around a few people since last night due to conflicts. PLEASE EMAIL ME ASAP if you have a conflict with your workshop date(s). Otherwise, click here for workshop teams and dates.
But before the formal workshop we’ll spend 10 minutes doing partner feedback, 5 minutes for each person, so that each class you’ll always get feedback from someone. During that partner time I’ll have something different for the workshopped people to do, such as focusing on leading discussion for another person in the class.
What is workshop about? Not to do the thinking for the poet, but to reflect honestly, accurately, how the poem is coming across. Big issues usually involve clarity, pacing, and structure. Everything we’ll workshop will be brand new, so our workshop feedback will be more about what’s most promising about this draft and what could future drafts look like? It’s natural that you’ll come out of workshop with CONTRADICTORY opinions from class members. That always happens and is part of the beauty of discovering that your audience is always richer, smarter, and quicker to form impressions than you think.
If you want to be workshopped, you must email me (no one else!) your poem in Microsoft Word format (or in the body of your email) by Monday night, 9 p.m. before class. No exceptions. This is the only hard and fast rule I’m making to ensure that we all have time to prepare and receive/give meaningful feedback. I’ll email the workshop packet as a single Word file to everyone by Tuesday morning latest. This will include not only formal workshop poems but the partner pair poems.
As a reminder, even if you’re not being formally workshopped, you’re still emailing me your poem each week. The workshop packet will tell you who is your partner for the week if your team isn’t up for workshop that week.
Please bring your own printed or electronic copy of all workshop poems each week. I won’t be providing paper copies.
Yay, we’re off!. . .