This is the image that almost became my book cover. I was considering the idea of water and how it is constantly in motion, just like my life. Water never stops moving, and my life will never stop changing. In the end, I chose “Introspection” because I didn’t think the theme of water fit well with every piece I wrote. Maybe next time?
I’m wondering if all writers have as much difficulty as I do writing pieces “about the author” when I’m writing about myself. I get the impression that this section is more often written by editors who want to sell a person’s work, and so they write a nice statement that makes one seem personable so that they will sell more in the future. I have no idea if my theory is correct, it’s just a thought. I sat for quite a long time trying to figure out what I should say about myself on a published inside cover. I couldn’t talk about my quaint country home or city loft, I don’t have any kids to mention, and I don’t have a favorite band to talk about. I know there are no real rules to writing an “about the author” but there are unwritten rules that we never discussed in class. I looked at several examples of what others have written and I tried to follow the main format:
“Hello! I’m a twenty-two year old student at Seton Hill University, and I’ll be graduating in the spring semester with a degree in English and Education. Right now I live in Greensburg in a small attic apartment with my noisy Bengal cat, Nemera. Some things I love to do include Zumba, yoga, hiking, dancing, autumn festivals, photography, bohemian skirts, writing, Banangrams, and overstuffed bookshelves. This is my first Chapbook. Enjoy!”
I mentioned the main ideas. Age, school, living situation, and I replaced the common line about kids with my cat. I genuinely wanted to write about who I am, so I just threw in all the random things I like to do that are a part of me. I think my ‘likes’ inspire how I write because they influence how I think.
In addition to the part where I describe myself, I think the one-liners where a writer is given a chance to describe themselves, introduce their work, or say something witty can take more time to write than the actual poem! I love submitting work to Eye Contact, but I hate trying to title myself in a single line. Giving my poetry a summarized title seems easy compared to this task!
I really enjoyed our classroom open mic experience, but I regret not showing the class my poetry presentation DVD from the Summer Honors Arts Residence Experience (SHARE) camp from high school. The experience taught me that poetry is not meant to be hidden away in a journal. Poetry is meant to be shared because it connects humans with unique and personal experiences that prove they are not alone. Their thoughts, pain, and emotions are not singular. Humanity needs literature and poetry to feel a connection, and it can be used in beautiful ways.
The SHARE program is a two week long summer program held at IUP for dancers, musicians, thespians, artists, and writers in their sophomore, junior, and senior year of high school. The application process was very involved so the students who were there were dedicated to learning. Being surrounded by like-minded people was an experience I never had at my high school. We learned just as much, if not more from our peers than from our teachers. I have never been so surrounded by creativity and energy as I was that week.
I wrote a piece called “Botox Liberation” for our final week performance. The theme was social justice, and my piece reflected this idea by questioning the media’s false representation of war. Two of my friends who were also great actors played the role of a mother and son having the conversation within my poem, and I was the narrator. They helped me give my work so much more depth by making it come alive. I have never seen poetry performed in this way since, and I think acting poetry out is as very powerful presentation experience that should be used more often.
“Don’t worry spiders. I keep house casually.” is a translated Haiku poem that I kept in my notes because it makes me smile every time I read it. I enjoyed our Haiku lesson, even if I don’t think my Haiku’s are the better body of my work. Haiku’s are direct, generally say a lot in a few words, and are a poem of the past that I predict will become a refurbished favorite of the future.
My generation’s comfortable relationship with technology and social networking programs has often forced people to consider how to say exactly what they want in a limited number of characters. When people consider what their Facebook status will be, they are practicing a skill that will help them write new Haiku’s. They need to tweet in 140 characters or less. They are eliminating unnecessary words, and witty posts that receive the most comments often say more than just surface emotions and thoughts. Haiku’s get to the point, are often funny, and they are an art form that the younger generations are more comfortable with than lengthy poetry because it seems less intimidating. We are also a generation of kids who are used to instant gratification. We can’t wait for dial up, there are hundreds of other channels, and we can’t have just one IM conversation. We want the meat of the story, and we want shows to just get to the good part. We don’t have time for lots of detail or setting descriptions. We just don’t have the time or the patience.
I don’t think new Haikus will focus on nature because younger people appear to be more removed from nature than older generations who didn’t have television and video games to play after school. The strict format and 5/7/5 syllable count will probably change too because few writers like to follow rules. I don’t know if these predictions will come true, but when I teach creative writing and poetry in the future, I will find out first-hand what poetry styles are the most popular in twenty years.
Every time I do a project that really impacts me in a unique way, I make a mental note of it so I can reference it when I begin teaching. I’m still not sure what grade I’ll end up teaching since I’m getting certified in k-12 and special education, but I think using Blurb to create my own book is something that can be used in different ways for any grade.
If I teach elementary or special needs, I can motivate the kids to do their best by telling them that their final project will be published in a class book. I can incorporate their pictures and art projects by taking pictures with my camera and downloading them. Every child will be so proud to see their work! I can use the book to show parents what their children are doing in class, and I can save it in a classroom library. In this way, younger siblings will be able to see what their older brothers and sisters did before them. If kids stop in to see me after they move on, they can look at the book and see how far they have progressed.
If I’m working with middle or high school students, I can use Blurb as an interdisciplinary unit. The project incorporates art, technology, and English. If the school district is interesting in buying books or allows a fundraiser, math can also be included. Kids can figure out exactly what book we can afford to buy. They can choose from softcover or hardcover, different sizes and the cost to include a certain number of pages. Creating your own book can either be a unit project or one that the students work on all year long. Just like we did in our poetry class, the students can choose their best work.
Not only does this project idea sound fun, it also covers many of the Pennsylvania State Standards. It gives kids a chance to see that their work can go beyond the classroom. When kids see that what they do matters, they work harder and will become more involved in taking responsibility for their own learning.
I have to admit, I’m very excited to receive my chapbook in the mail. Ever since I was in middle school, I have been writing poetry, but I never actually put it together in any sort of publishable format. I know that my book isn’t perfect and that as soon as I flip through it I’ll find errors that I wish I could go back and correct, but no matter what issues I find with it during my perfectionist critique, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Honestly, in all my naivety, I thought that it would take about two hours to find pictures for my six poems, write an “about the author” page and a piece about my writing style and inspirations. I quickly found out that I was wrong. When I write poetry I have a very specific image of what picture I am creating in my own mind. I went into further depth with this in my chapbook when I compared poetry to a scrapbook and I also included a quote from poet Li-Young Lee:
For me, writing poetry is the ability to construct truth out of the various parts of myself – my memories, senses, and emotions. It constructs a scrapbook of images and memories that incorporate every part of who I am. My memories are the words that give an image life, the metaphors are descriptions and dates, and my senses are the borders and decorations that pull it all together. “Writing for me is an act of love, and poems are shapes or forms of love” (Li-Young Lee 283).
Because I feel as though writing is my scrapbook, I find it difficult to match pictures with my memories because I want them to be real. I want them to be the image of the exact moment in time that I was experiencing that later inspired me to write. As a result, I am not satisfied with any of the borrowed pictures.
If I do this again in the future, if I really do look to publish a book for others to read or even another for myself that doesn’t have a finals deadline, I’m going to do all of the photography myself. Unfortunately, I know that this won’t even always match up the way I want it to, but it will make it more personal to me. I will never be able to have the exact picture of my grandfather in his chair that I am imaging in “Granddad” because I can’t go back in time to take it.
I realize that all will interpret each poem how they perceive it, but when I’m given the chance to show reader’s what I meant when I wrote it, it gives me more control over my own writing. It’s scary to publish knowing that as soon as it leaves my possession people will interpret it however they see fit. It’s out of the author’s hands. That’s part of the beauty of literature, but it’s also very difficult to do. I think adding pictures helps to clarify any serious confusion with some written pieces and I want all of it to be mine, the poetry and the photography.
The prose poem hits close to home. It is defined as, “A block-shaped, usually paragraphed text that relies on the poetic technique of imagery and condensed, rhythmic, repetitive, often rhymed language and often makes its point via metaphor, anaology, or association, yet still may partake of fictional techniques like character building, plot dialogue, and so on” (Bishop 265). I immediatly feel into the readings this week becuase prose poetry is exactly how my writing always begins. I have never understood how people can sit down and start drafting a poem as, well, a poem. I always start writing images and memories that created the story I want to transfer into poetry. I take the blocked writing (that I sometimes prefer to my final poems) and then break them up by highlighting and circling the most powerful images and nouns. I always try to take an axe to all of the words that are unnecessary, what my high school teacher used to call “the fluffies.” I always thought this was just part of my own writing process and I honestly never considered simply reworking the prose poetry instead of forcing it into a poem form with stanzas and all of the excess words removed. In this format, I’m able to rework the prose by adding all of the good stuff that I love about poetry like rhymed language and metaphors while keeping the original story. After reading the examples from the text, it is clear that these works are not just first drafts of poems, they are poetry, simply in a differernt format. They are like short stories, but with more concentration on the words, line breaks, rhyme, metaphors, etc. In this format, the author can eliminate many of the restraints of proper grammar in order to write in a fluid stream of thought that often includes sentence fragments - my favorite break from the rules when writing on my own. I’m looking forward to giving this format a try!
I never imagined that I would write on of my favorite pieces for a drink. But really, it’s not just any drink, it’s the best I’ve ever had. I can’t even describe to you the childish temper tantrum I had when I realized it was seasonal. The months can’t go by fast enough until I can have my sweet Starbucks mocha coconut frappuccino in my hands again…
As Halloween approaches, I feel as though sestinas should be given more emphasis. Sestinas are defined as poems that “require that six words be repeated in a set pattern across six stanzas and that all six words be used - again, in pattern - in a three line final stanza, called an envoi - literally, a farewell or conclusion” (Bishop 292). It does not appear to be a rhyme scheme at first because there is no abab pattern to follow, but it is actually made up of exact rhymes that are the same words which “sound and resound” (Bishop 292).
We all practiced writing sestinas in class last week, and I loved the activity because writing a sestina is a challenging, but fun experience. I remember using this form in high school and I also enjoyed it then. I know this sounds extremely bias, but I think the best sestinas are ones with a haunting tale to tell. Because of the constant repetition of the same line throughout the poem, I think it sounds like it is set up to scare people, or to at least leave the reader with a chill up thier spine.
I haven’t put any real work into the sestina I wrote in class because I don’t think that it is one of my best pieces I will chose to put into my portfolio at the end of the semester, but I will post a few stanzas to give an example of the haunting effect the repetition of the same lines can produce. Our class was given six words to work with: time, glass, fall, color, space, silent. With these words, I wrote a sestina that focuses on Kristallnacht, also known as the night of broken glass. This was the night that the Nazis broke and burned all of the Jewish owned buildings and businesses.
“In one night, 1,350 Jewish synagogues were burnt to the ground or destroyed; over 91 Jews were killed; 30,000 Jews were thrown into concentration camps; 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed; and thousands of Jewish homes were ransacked” (www.aish.com).
It’s time to remember
The night of broken glass
The night of fallen dreams,
Of darkened colors
When every soul screamed for silence
When silence was engulfed in flames
It’s time to remember
In this space, in this chapel
Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass
When all color drained from their faces
When the buildings fell
This is certainly not a polished piece that I plan to do anything with, but my point is that the repeated line “It is time to remember” is meant to mimic the idea of a church service about this horrific historical event. It is intended to leave readers with images of the horror the Jewish people experienced, the fact that the only thing we can do now is remember that it happened. The only way to try to keep it from happening again is to remember that it can happen, that is has happened, and that there is a good chance it will occur again if we don’t remember.