Introduction to Literature

Reading in the Digital Age

Tag: poetry

The Work for Weeks 11 &12

Unit Theme: Innocence and Experience

Weeks 11-12 Focus: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

PrepareParticipateReflect


Prepare

ReadingOther

(Terms to Know: point of view and allusion)

This Week’s Reading

RequiredSupplemental

  • Required:
  • Thus far in the semester, I’ve allowed you to choose a portion of the unit reading, but for this section of the course, I’m allowing you to create your own reading list, per the following guidelines:

    • (Fiction): Pick three (3) stories from the fiction section in “Innocence and Experience” (LHE 80-128). This could include Hua’s “Appendix” (LHE 299-304) and Xue’s “Hut on the Mountain” (LHE 304-7).
    • (Nonfiction): Pick two (2) essays from the essays section in “Innocence and Experience” (LHE 280-97).
    • (Poetry): Pick eight (8) poems from the poetry section in “Innocence and Experience” (LHE 129-59). This could include Lim’s “Father from Asia” (LHE 308).
  • Supplemental
    • Review the items added to the class’s supplemental texts spreadsheet.


Other Preparation Activities

  • Record two entries in your Reading Notebook.
  • Search the internet for an online resource that supplements one of the texts from this week’s reading (see my list of supplemental texts for examples of what you might find). Once you’ve found your resource, paste a link in this shared Google spreadsheet. Be sure to fill in all the information asked for in the sheet.

Participate


Reflect


Note:
*Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due by midnight of the date posted.

 

The Work for Week 5

Unit Theme: Conformity and Rebellion

Week 5 Focus: Poetry

PrepareParticipateReflect

My Week 5 Rundown


Prepare

ReadingOther

(Terms to Know: End-stopped line and enjambment/enjambed line)

This Week’s Reading

RequiredSupplemental

Before you begin this week’s reading, review the discussion prompts for this week’s G+ Conversations. The following texts will serve as the basis for this week’s discussion:

  • Required:
    • (Poetry) “On Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheatley, LHE 392.
    • (Poetry) “She rose to His Requirement” by Emily Dickinson, LHE 396.
    • (Poetry) “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, LHE 399-400.
    • (Poetry) “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, LHE 456.
    • (Poetry) “Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser, LHE 408.
    • (Poetry) “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, LHE 411.
    • (Poetry) “Dreams” by Nikki Giovanni, LHE 416.
    • (Poetry) “The Colonel” by Carolyn Forché, LHE 420.
    • (Poetry) “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg, full-text online.
    • (Poetry) Individual choice: Read at least one of the remaining poems in the “Poetry” section of “Conformity and Rebellion” in LHE.


Other Preparation Activities

  • Record two entries in your Reading Notebook.
  • Search the internet for an online resource that supplements one of the texts from this week’s reading (see my list of supplemental texts for examples of what you might find). Once you’ve found your resource, paste a link in this shared Google spreadsheet. Be sure to fill in all the information asked for in the sheet.
  • Review the Book Review assignment.

Participate


Reflect


Note:
*Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due by midnight of the date posted.

 

Performing the Pleasure and Sense of a Poem

For me, one of the greatest pleasures of reading poetry is the way poetic language feels both when I hear it and when I make it. (Hence the audio and video supplements I’ve been sharing with you.) Not only do I enjoy hearing and making poetic language, though, I believe that experiencing poetry in performance can help me better understand the sense–the meaning–of poems. Additionally, I’m convinced that reading and performing poetry has practical value. Poet and teacher Dana Gioia says something similar in this clip from the Poetry Out Loud Audio Guide. (Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest that encourages America’s youth “to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.” You can learn more about the program here.) In Gioia’s clip, which is titled “The Power of Poetry,” he offers four reasons why poetry might be one of the most practical and important things we learn in school: “Language, perception, communication, compassion,” he says: “these are the practical gifts that mastering poetry can develop.”

For this discussion, you’ll put the premise behind Poetry Out Loud to the test by preparing to perform, then by performing and discussing your performance of, a short poem or a brief excerpt from a longer poem (like “Howl”). To get started, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Pick your favorite poem from this unit module’s reading (this could include, as always, what you read for individual choice).

Step 2: Read and reread the poem and, if needed, do some simple research to familiarize yourself with the narrative’s timing, flow, language, tone, symbolism, characters and their personalities, setting, dialogue, etc.

Step 3: Review these tips on reciting poetry. The following may be particularly useful as you prepare to record your performance: Voice and ArticulationDramatic Appropriateness, and Evidence of Understanding. If you like, watch the video examples provided for each criterion to get a sense of how others have used them to guide performance. These clips from the Poetry Out Loud Audio Guide might also be useful: “Conveying Emotion, with Excerpts from Hamlet and “Punching Words.”

Step 4: Practice presenting the narrative aloud until you’re comfortable enough with the language, timing, and flow that you don’t stumble and so it doesn’t sound like you’re simply reading from the text. If you’re game, you could practice reading in front of friends and/or family members and ask them to help you fine tune your performance to make it more compelling.

Step 5: Record your performance of the poem using audio or video recording software; begin your performance by stating the title of the poem and the poet’s name so we know what poem we’ll be hearing. If you have access to your own software, you’re free to use that; just be sure you save the file in a widely-accessible format (like .mp3). If you don’t have access to your own software, here’s a link to a few sites that allow the easy recording and sharing of .mp3 files: Record MP3Vocaroo, and SoundCloud.

Step 6: Paste a link to your recording in the Pleasures of Poetry page in our G+ Community. (You should also feel free to share the link with your other social networks: Twitter, Facebook, etc. See how your followers/friends respond to your recording.) In the same post, reflect on your experience in at least 150 words in which you discuss a) why you chose this particular poem to perform and b) how preparing to perform the poem–then how performing the poem–influenced your understanding of and interaction with it. You might discuss, for instance, what the experience taught you about the four practical gifts of poetry: language, perception, communication, and compassion.

After you’ve made your initial post, comment on at least three other posts by the week’s end with replies of at least 50 words.

The Poet as Activist/Poetry as Activism

Many poets are inspired to write by and about social and political conditions, including the relationship between sexes and among races, social classes, and countries, etc. In so doing, they hope to speak out against oppression and to throw light on the human condition in hopes of inspiring change in individual readers and in communities. The poems in this unit seek to do just that: to comment on the human condition and to inspire change. In this light, these poets could be considered activists and their poetry as a form of activism.

In an initial post of at least 200 words, discuss what change two or three of this unit’s poems hope to inspire and what strategies the poets have used to inspire change. For instance, what tone do the poems’ speakers take to their subjects and to themselves? Do they make use of irony or humor and to what ends? What specific language and imagery do these poems contain and what emotions do this language and/or imagery evoke? And so on.

In all of this keep in mind the following questions: how, if at all, does this poem inspire me to act? What, if anything, does my interaction with it inspire me to do or to become?

Once you’ve made your initial post, comment on at least three other posts by the week’s end with posts of at least 50 words.

Post your initial response to the Poets, Poetry, & Activism page on our G+ community then reply directly to your peers’ G+ posts.

Introduction to Poetry

Many people don’t care for poetry. They may find it difficult to read, even more difficult to understand, and just as difficult to enjoy. As a result, they avoid poetry altogether; and when they have to read it—say, when a list of poems is assigned for the reading in a college literature course *wink wink*—they simply endure the task for the sake of a grade. This attitude may in part be the result of students having been taught that a poem’s ultimate value resides in what the poem means and that to uncover this value, a poem must be dissected and its parts scrutinized for hidden or symbolic meaning.

American poet and teacher Billy Collins laments this attitude. In his poem titled (appropriately enough) “Introduction to Poetry,” Collins describes how he tries to move students beyond this limited way of reading. Link through and read Collins’ poem (aloud, if you like; you could also follow along as Collins reads it; this video illustrates the poem nicely). After you’ve finished reading, freewrite for 5 minutes about how you could apply Collins’ suggestions in your encounters with other poems. During your freewrite, don’t stop writing once you’ve begun and don’t self-edit. Trust your first thoughts and pursue them wherever they lead. Once you’ve concluded your freewriting session, reread one of the poems assigned for this week (as always, this could include what you read for individual choice) applying the ideas you explored in your freewrite as you reread the poem. Then reflect on how those ideas influenced (or not) your encounter with the text and how your encounter differed (or not) from your previous experience with poems. Your reflection should be at least 100 words.

For your initial response to this discussion prompt, post the text you produced during your freewrite as well as your 100 word reflection. Then comment on at least three other posts throughout the unit in posts of at least 50 words.

Post your initial response to the Intro to Poetry page on our G+ community then reply directly to your peers’ G+ posts.

We Wear the Mask

The speaker in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” suggests that all of us wear a mask when we interact with “the world.” What do you think he means by this? What is “the mask” and what functions does he suggest that it serves—i.e., why do we put it on and what do we hope it will do for us? Also, out of what things do you think the mask is constructed? Refer to specific examples from the poem and from your personal experience as you respond.

Once you’ve posed your answers to these questions, discuss how the concept of the mask is developed in one or two other texts from this week’s reading (this could include Trifles or what you read for individual choice).

Your initial post should be at least 200 words long and you should respond to at least three other posts throughout the week with responses of at least 50 words.

Post your initial response to the We Wear the Mask page on our G+ community then reply directly to your peers’ G+ posts.

The Work for Week 3

Unit Theme: Culture and Identity

Week 3 Focus: Poetry and Drama

PrepareParticipateReflect

My Week 3 Rundown


Prepare

ReadingOther

(Terms to Know: Imagery and stanza.)

This Week’s Reading

RequiredSupplemental

Before you begin this week’s reading, review the discussion prompts for this week’s G+ Conversations. The following texts will serve as the basis for this week’s discussion:

  • Required:
    • (Poetry) “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar, LHE 594-95.
    • (Poetry) “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, LHE 595-99.
    • (Poetry) “Latin Women Pray” by Judith Ortiz Cofer, LHE 605.
    • (Poetry) “Daystar” by Rita Dove, LHE 606.
    • (Poetry) Individual choice: Read at least two of the remaining poems in the “Poetry” section of “Culture and Identity” in LHE (this could include “The Stranglehold of English Lit.” by Feliz Mnthali on page 713-14).
    • (Drama) “Trifles” by Susan Glaspell, LHE 916-28.
    • In conjunction with “Trifles,” read Glaspell’s short story version of this play, which is titled “Jury of Her Peers.” You can find the complete text online on the flipside of this link. Once you’ve read both texts, consider how reading the same story in different genres (a play and a short story) influenced the way you received the narrative and what you got out of it.

  • Supplemental
    • (Strongly encouraged) “Reading Poetry,” LHE 11-19. Review the questions listed on pages 17-19 under “Exploring Poetry.” You might want to dog ear these pages and return to them as we discuss poetry throughout the semester. Note: These sections from LHE remind me of a moment in the movie Dead Poets Society (1989) when Mr. Keating instructs his students to rip the introduction from their textbook because he didn’t want it to intrude on their reading of poetry. I won’t go that far, but I will direct you to a clip of that moment in the film and suggest that you take these introductions to reading literature (“Reading Fiction,” “Reading Nonfiction,” “Reading Poetry,” “Reading Drama”) only for what they’re worth as means to enhance your interactions with and response to texts from each genre.
    • (Strongly encouraged) “Reading Drama” LHE 22-30. Review the questions listed on pages 29-30 under “Exploring Drama.” You might want to dog ear these pages and return to them as we discuss drama throughout the semester.
    • (Video) Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” performed by various people on YouTube. I found the PopPunk version by TeraBite especially interesting.

    • (Video) Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” performed by various people on YouTube. Check out especially these three performances: the poem read by Eliot himself, the poem animated, and the poem read by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
    • (Video) “Rita Dove Reads ‘Daystar'” posted on Vimeo by BillMoyers.com.
    • (Video) “Trifles by Susan Glaspell, a d’moiselles production in NYC” posted by d’moiselles on YouTube.
    • (Audio) Glaspell’s “Jury of Her Peers” read by Cori Samuels for LibriVox (“Jury” is #5 on the list).

 

Other Preparation Activities

  • Record two entries in your Reading Notebook.
  • Search the internet for an online resource that supplements one of the texts from this week’s reading (see my list of supplemental texts for examples of what you might find). Once you’ve found your resource, paste a link in this shared Google spreadsheet. Be sure to fill in all the information asked for in the sheet.
  • Review the Book Review assignment. (Link forthcoming.)

Participate

  • By Thursday: Using #amreading, post three comments on Twitter for the texts you read this week. By Sunday: Reply to three of your peers’ tweets, responding to what they’ve said about the text (e.g., say what you liked or didn’t like about it, another quote that struck you from the text, etc.). You can find your classmates on Twitter via the list on the flipside of this link.
  • Initial post by Thursday, three responses by Sunday: Participate in the We Wear the Mask G+ Conversation.
  • Initial post by Friday, three responses by Monday: Participate in the Introduction to Poetry G+ Conversation.

Reflect


Note:
*Unless otherwise noted, assignments are due by midnight of the date posted.