Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Third Class

At CityLit

1. Begin IT! The Writer’s Ritual, A Reminder
A. Get a notebook.
B. Writers who succeed are writers with discipline. Write in it everyday - discipline.
C. Try writing at different times of day. This way you will find the best time for you.
D. Make a place for yourself to write. If you write in the same place and it is always ready for you...it makes it easier to find the words. You build energy there and train your mind that this is the place where you make words.
E. Find a place to post your positive statement. (On your notebook. On the bathroom mirror. Anywhere you will see it regularly.)

2. Discussion
A. By the time we leave this class, I want everyone to have been launched on a personal odyssey towards their voice as well as a have project to go with it. This way the class will live on after it is finished. Make sure I see your work. It will help me to help you find your voice.

B. I’ve been hearing a desire to know more about different forms of creative writing. Such as, “what is a poem?” and “what is “creative non-fiction?” These haven’t been introduced because I’m hoping you will not begin to label your work. I don’t want you to put your words “in boxes” at the moment.

I’ve been hearing the yearning for publication. Well, the writers who are breaking down the ever-dwindling publishing doors are not the ones who do what everyone else does. These are the people who have the brass, the audacity and the courage to let their story make its own rules. Or the ones who are publishing follow the rules so perfectly that you forget what they are.

So much for boxes. We will still look at them - it’s always good to know the rules before you break them.

3. Homework
Reading Review
Task: You were given three poems about difficult subject matter and an interview with a modern poet.

Goals: Gain a greater understanding of how language works and of the devices used by writers. Introduce to you to skills used by modern professional writers. Respond to and assess pieces of writing, Recognise poetic techniques. Enter into the mindset of successful modern authors.

Material Presented/Discussed:
A. Poetry (Terms and forms we discussed.) Find more on detail on: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry All quoted references are from this source.
A. A stanza is “unit with the larger poem. A stanza can be a certain number of lines, have a particular rhyme scheme or as in much modern poetry, may be an arbitrary unit defined by publishing conventions such as white space or punctuation.”
B. A couplet is two lines which form a stanza.
C A triplet is three lines which form a stanza.
D. A quatrain is “four lines of poetry which form a stanza. Most common of all stanza forms in English.”
E. A haiku is a Japanese form which is made up of 17 syllables. The first line has 5 syllables. The second line has 7 syllables. The third (and last line) has 5 syllables. Although modern haiku in English have made significant changes to this form, it is commonly agreed that: a special seasonal word is used; addresses a simple subject and provides the reader with some profound epiphany.
F. There are many different forms of sonnets. It is “a poem of 14 lines which follows a very strict rhyme scheme.” In English writing of sonnets, the lines are written in iambic pentameter. The Shakespearean sonnet varies from the Italian sonnet both in structure of stanzas and rhyme scheme. It is the opinion of this writing instructor that, the Italian Sonnet has a much more exciting rhyme scheme, but less exciting structure.
G. An elegy “is a poem of mourning, from the Greek elegos, a reflection on the death of someone or on a sorrow generally. The English word "eulogy" is derived from it. In addition, an elegy (sometimes spelled elegíe) may be a type of musical work, usually in a sad and somber attitude.(1) ”
H. Gigan - see weekly review 2
I. Villanelle - see weekly review 2

B. Poets do not have to write in form. It is not mandatory. However, at some point, many poets choose to write in form for a variety of reasons. It is an exciting and challenging “word game,” It hones skills. It demonstrates a certain level of mastery.

C. Form can serve many purposes.
1. According to the interview with Patricia Johnson, she chose the form of a villanelle “to place parameters and to force myself into a discipline. There would be no room to get carried away with rhetoric.(2) ”
2. Ruth Kocher used form to contain her grief because she has “never been able to really confront and accept her death(3) ” The use of her gigan form allowed her to make a poem which had multiple layers of meaning. For example: she was able to use the gigan to create a culturally relevant elegy in that she portrayed a dead jazz singer in the tradition of the New Orleans jazz funeral. The final couplet about the bird singing gave an additional revelation about music being eternal and unstoppable.
3. Form is just another tool that a creative writer can put in their “writer’s tool box.” If job calls for a hammer and you only have screwdrivers, then you can’t finish the job.
4. Form places external restraints on the writer. It gives the project clear and distinct boundaries. It can distract a writer and invite deeper insights. It can loosen preconceived ideas about the subject matter, thereby allowing the writer to go in new, previously unthought of directions.

Writing Review
Task: Choose an object which you use all of the time. the more common and bland the better. Examples, toilet tissue, diapers, toothbrush, sanitary napkins, tea bags.
A. Who made this item?
1. Are they married, single, divorced?
2. Are they young or old?
3. Do they have children?
4. What is their favourite colour?
5. What do they like to do after work?
6. Do they have any hobbies?
B. What are they feeling when they make this item?
C. Where are they?
D. What does it look and sound like there?
E. Do they ever think about you - the user?
F. What do they think about you?

Goals: Use the skills necessary to think and write creatively. Gain a greater understanding of the devices used by writers. Loosen the imagination. Recognise and practice fictional techniques. Respond to and assess pieces of of writing with sensitivity. Practice new writing skills.

Material Presented:
1. In a fictional story, the writer:
invents a character or characters;
places them in setting;
creates for the reader a “snapshot” of the character’s life;
develops the story to it’s climax (point of highest tension or drama); and
creates resolution.
2. Everything is your material. As we saw from many of the pieces, the main character evolved out of people or experience’s in the writer’s past or present.
3. Even the most mundane and ordinary thing has a story attached to it. Writers find stories in everything they touch..
3. A writer can take a personal experience and transform it into a work of fiction. Even if these “facts” are no longer recognisable, they help create a believable character.
4. If the writer is writing about an unfamiliar subject, sometimes, research is required. This helps give the story depth.
5. In order to create a believable character, we must include detail.


4. Things to think about:
A. Boring people do not always live boring lives. Seek the extraordinary in ordinary people.
B. Good writers strive to develop empathy. This allows them to create characters which are full and real rather than flat and two dimensional.
C. Finding forgiveness and the ability set aside judgement leads to interesting characters with whom a reader wants to spend time.
D. Celebrate human frailty. Use it as a tool for character development.
E. When creating characters, remember that readers read for many reasons including:
* to better understand the people in the world around them;
* to escape from their ordinary lives;
* to see things in new ways;
* to become someone else for a short time.

5. Homework
On a slip of paper, Complete the following phrase:

People would be surprised to know that I.......

Trade slips. Write about the surprising thing as if you are that person. You must use the first person and you must use dialogue.

-------Footnotes
1. All of the quotes above the footnote are from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poetry
2. “Witness, Testify, Recall: A Conversation With Patricia Johnson,” from Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women’s Poetry by Felicia Mitchell, University of Tennessee Press, 2002
3. http://aboutaword.blogspot.com/2005/06/gigan-for-queen-bee.html

1 comment:

Mendi O. said...

lovely info. thanks for this!