Poetry in the Literature in English Classroom: Creative and Practical Teaching Strategies

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Poetry in the Literature in English Classroom:

Creative and Practical Teaching Strategies

Collier Nogues, MFA Writer-in-Residence

Lingnan University

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Priorities in the CW classroom:

Getting students to write (instead of listening to me talk); when they write, they discover that they can.

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Priorities in the CW classroom:

Getting students to write (instead of listening to me talk); when they write, they discover that they can.

Making students feel good about what they’ve written. Criticism is for one-on-one meetings, or written feedback—in the classroom I’m all

encouragement.

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Priorities in the CW classroom:

Getting students to write (instead of listening to me talk); when they write, they discover that they can.

Making students feel good about what they’ve written. Criticism is for one-on-one meetings, or written feedback—in the classroom I’m all

encouragement.

Grounding students in the values I want them to

associate with creative writing. The “hands” prompt, and prompts like it, make it easy to illustrate those values.

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So what are those values?

Poetry should be grounded in the world, in detail, no matter how huge and abstract its subject.

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So what are those values?

Poetry should be grounded in the world, in detail, no matter how huge and abstract its subject.

Poetry should surprise. Its language should be fresh, not something you’ve heard or seen before.

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So what are those values?

Poetry should be grounded in the world, in detail, no matter how huge and abstract its subject.

Poetry should surprise. Its language should be fresh, not something you’ve heard or seen before.

Poetry should feel like it comes from a particular person’s intelligence--only this poet sees the world quite this way, and would express it this just this way.

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So what are those values?

Poetry should be grounded in the world, in detail, no matter how huge and abstract its subject.

Poetry should surprise. Its language should be fresh, not something you’ve heard or seen before.

Poetry should feel like it comes from a particular person’s intelligence--only this poet sees the world quite this way, and would express it this just this way.

Poetry should be conscious that language is its medium:

it should be interested not only in WHAT it’s saying, but HOW.

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Ways to make “grounded in the world” assessable:

• Imagery: sensory, concrete detail.

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Ways to make “grounded in the world” assessable:

• Imagery: sensory, concrete detail.

• Diction: precise, juicy nouns and verbs and

adjectives.

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Ways to make “grounded in the world” assessable:

• Imagery: sensory, concrete detail.

• Diction: precise, juicy nouns and verbs and adjectives.

• Speakers and addressees who feel real and

particular.

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Ways to make “grounded in the world” assessable:

• Imagery: sensory, concrete detail.

• Diction: precise, juicy nouns and verbs and adjectives.

• Speakers and addressees who feel real and particular.

Example poems:

Bishop, Chan, Lee, O’Hara, Xi Xi, Leung; Brooks,

Bishop; Plath; Williams, Yam Gong, O’Hara

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Ways to make “surprise” and

“freshness” assessable:

• Emphasize unexpected, but resonant, metaphors

and similes

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Ways to make “surprise” and

“freshness” assessable:

• Emphasize unexpected, but resonant, metaphors and similes

• Encourage associative rather than narrative

juxtaposition, and logical leaps

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Ways to make “surprise” and

“freshness” assessable:

• Emphasize unexpected, but resonant, metaphors and similes

• Encourage associative rather than narrative juxtaposition, and logical leaps

• Experiment with sound relationships and music

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Ways to make “surprise” and

“freshness” assessable:

• Emphasize unexpected, but resonant, metaphors and similes

• Encourage associative rather than narrative juxtaposition, and logical leaps

• Experiment with sound relationships and music

Example poems:

Plath, Chan; Lee, Yam Gong, O’Hara, Ip, Xi Xi (“A

Tale About Seeing”); Brooks, Plath

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

Ask easy questions which target a particular feature:

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

Ask easy questions which target a particular feature:

“Who’s talking”? “Who are they talking to”?

(targeting the speaker/addressee relationship)

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

Ask easy questions which target a particular feature:

“Who’s talking”? “Who are they talking to”?

(targeting the speaker/addressee relationship)

Then ask “How do you know?” to help students track what, exactly, is working in the poem to give that effect.

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

Ask easy questions which target a particular feature:

“Who’s talking”? “Who are they talking to”?

(targeting the speaker/addressee relationship)

Then ask “How do you know?” to help students track what, exactly, is working in the poem to give that effect.

Students can invariably do this. Their instincts are right, because they’re readers (and humans).

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

• Write imitation poems

(works especially well with O’Hara’s particular description, with Williams’ particular addressee,

Chan’s “I went to town and bought”, Xi Xi’s “when I

grow up”, Joshua Ip’s “Ideograms”)

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Ways to use these example poems in the classroom:

• Write imitation poems

(works especially well with O’Hara’s particular description, with Williams’ particular addressee,

Chan’s “I went to town and bought”, Xi Xi’s “when I grow up”, Joshua Ip’s “Ideograms”)

• Write adaptation poems/stories

(example: a Lingnan student adapted “The Fish” into

a story about the daughter of a fish seller at the wet

market and her father)

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

Cliché freewriting (addressing cliché head-on; sound)

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

Cliché freewriting (addressing cliché head-on; sound)

Turning cliché s on their heads poem (surprise, association)

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

Cliché freewriting (addressing cliché head-on; sound)

Turning cliché s on their heads poem (surprise, association)

Memory association poem (fresh metaphor, concrete detail, stakes for speaker)

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

Cliché freewriting (addressing cliché head-on; sound)

Turning cliché s on their heads poem (surprise, association)

Memory association poem (fresh metaphor, concrete detail, stakes for speaker)

Ideograms (association, fresh metaphor, concrete detail, attention to language as material) Let’s do this, too.

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Prompts to use alongside or independently

Two ways to build fresh metaphors (also good for:

concrete detail, surprise) Let’s do one now!

Cliché freewriting (addressing cliché head-on; sound)

Turning cliché s on their heads poem (surprise, association)

Memory association poem (fresh metaphor, concrete detail, stakes for speaker)

Ideograms (association, fresh metaphor, concrete detail, attention to language as material) Let’s do this, too.

Volume (sound relationships, language as material, concrete objects) And this!

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One more assessable element:

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

Ask them:

Who is this poem for?

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

Ask them:

Who is this poem for?

What effect do you want it to have on that audience?

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

Ask them:

Who is this poem for?

What effect do you want it to have on that audience?

How do you want your reader to feel about your speaker?

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

Ask them:

Who is this poem for?

What effect do you want it to have on that audience?

How do you want your reader to feel about your speaker?

What are the techniques you’re using to do that?

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One more assessable element:

Revision/Reflection

Encouraging students to think purposefully about what they want, and how they’re getting there, is a great way to make creative writing assessable.

Ask them:

Who is this poem for?

What effect do you want it to have on that audience?

How do you want your reader to feel about your speaker?

What are the techniques you’re using to do that?

You can ask them to reflect on their own work, and to trade and “workshop” each other’s.

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Looking forward…

If you’ve got ideas for how to encourage creative writing in your classroom, let us hear them!

And if you come up with more ideas after this workshop, please stay in touch. I’d love to hear from you.

noguescollier@gmail.com www.colliernogues.com

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Thank you.

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