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English 9 Introduction to Poetry
Transcript of English 9 Introduction to Poetry
To become comfortable with the
of poetry, you must first understand terms such as:
rhyme, alliteration, assonance, consonance,
Let's review some poetic form terms that will be on the poetry quiz:
One guideline for writing good poems: avoid cliches.
Young (and old) writers may tend to fall back on the use of
when the writing gets tough.
. Write what you've SEEN.
image in the mind of your readers.
"the picture the poet creates"
The strongest images are ones you have SEEN.
Imagery is more than just sight; it is sensory detail in general: sounds, touches, smells, tastes, sights.
Exercise: Begin a story by describing a person's hands in graphic detail. Use the physical characteristics of their hands, as well as any relevant movement or activity (gestures, fidgeting, etc.) to reveal who they belong to.
The poetic equivalent of a collage!!
The Infinity Room,
The House on the Rock
Wisconsin, summer 2014
What are some cliche phrases/metaphors you've seen in poetry/songs? Make a list so you can avoid them!
blue eyes being compared to bodies of water/window panes
a heart being shattered, broken, a soul being crushed, "cut like a knife"
hair as black as a raven/crow, red hair being likened to fire
bones, rib cages, "nails on a chalkboard"
saying someone can "read you like a book," "like a fish out of water"
"dark as night," "white as snow," "red as blood"
"sparkled like diamonds, "light/soft as a feather"
a person being your "rock," "hard as a rock," being "caught between a rock and a hard place"
Writing found poetry: Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.
A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.
Next areas of focus: Allusions and Extended Metaphor
allusion: reference to another work (often the Bible, mythology, classic literature, historical events/people)
extended metaphor: the use of a metaphor (a comparison between two unlike subjects) throughout a long passage or even an entire poem.
Yet another example: "Aftermath," by Sylvia Plath:
Context: Plath was newly divorced at the time she wrote this poem
Allusion, Medea: In Greek mythology, Medea was the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, niece of Circe, granddaughter of the sun god Helios, and later wife to the hero Jason, with whom she had two children, Mermeros and Pheres. In Euripides's play Medea, Jason leaves Medea when Creon, king of Corinth, offers him his daughter, Glauce. The play tells of Medea avenging her husband's betrayal by slaying their children.
Extended metaphor: a burning house
Knowing this info, how would you interpret Plath's usage of Medea and the burning house?
In a monologue in the play, Medea explains how difficult it is for a woman to find the right husband, as she has no way of knowing what the future will hold. That once married the woman must give her body to her husband and trust that he will not abuse her, as a divorced woman is vilified by everyone. Women are portrayed as loyal to one partner only adding to the ruin and dismay if he decides to leave. A woman is not better off safe at home, away from the battlefield; if she has the wrong partner, she is better off dead.
Compelled by calamity's magnet
They loiter and stare as if the house
Burnt-out were theirs, or as if they thought
Some scandal might any minute ooze
From a smoke-choked closet into light;
No deaths, no prodigious injuries
Glut these hunters after an old meat,
Blood-spoor of the austere tragedies.
Mother Medea in a green smock
Moves humbly as any housewife through
Her ruined apartments, taking stock
Of charred shoes, the sodden upholstery:
Cheated of the pyre and the rack,
The crowd sucks her last tear and turns away.
Country "Music" Cliches:
One of my favorite examples: "I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power's Out" by: Andrea Gibson (alluding to a poem originally by Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric").
2. Page poetry: poetry intended to be published in writing by its author and read off a page by its reader
The two main types of page poetry are:
a. free verse (no rhyming or structure requirements)
b. form poetry (follows a set of structural criteria and often a particular rhyme scheme).
So poetry can typically be divided into 2 major categories:
1. The first major type of poetry is STAGE poetry: poetry intended to be performed by its author and heard by its audience. STAGE poetry focuses on rhythm, volume, speed, and tone of voice, and stage presence.
Examples: spoken word poetry, poetry slams, hip-hop/rap
A poetry slam is a competition in which a set of judges scores its poets on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest.
Add this to free write:
What changes when this poem is performed vs. read silently? What remains the same?
How do Hilborn's volume, tone, and speed of voice work together to mirror the themes in his poem?
Do your feelings about the speaker change at all after hearing this poem performed? Does he look and sound like you envisioned from reading the piece on your own? If so, how?
Does the poem move you more when you read it off the page to yourself or when you see/hear it performed? Why/why not? What qualities are lost if you simply read it from a page?
Do you prefer it better read silently or performed? Why/why not?
1. Read the poem "OCD" by Neil Hilborn.
2. Answer the following questions:
Describe the speaker. In poetry, the speaker and the author are often the same person but do not always have to be. Do you think the author is the speaker in this piece?
Describe the poem's tone (author's attitude). Which words/phrases help you determine it?
Why do you feel the speaker repeats himself so much?
What literary devices/figurative language do you see here? (personification, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, alliteration, assonance?)
What are some potential themes from the poem (morals, messages)?
Does it move you, emotionally? Why/why not?
As a review from before break, poetry can be divided into 2 major categories. Page and stage. We discussed how stage, or spoken word poetry comes to life when PERFORMED. In contrast, some PAGE poetry comes across completely differently when read off of the page instead of being read aloud.
Examples of this would be:
poems with unique and unconventional structure, capitalization, punctuation, etc. such as the work of E.E. Cummings
Acrostic poem: a poem whose first letter of each line spells out a word, name, or phrase.
ALIEN -NOT- HUMAN
Alien life form--- ---Far from human toucH
Living among it self--- ---In the heavens like a gurU
Intelligence kept from civilization------Scientist call it a phantoM
Earth remains alone--- ---Like a secret ninjA
NASA's top secret--- ---You are not humaN
Concrete poem: a poem written in such a way that it creates the physical shape of its subject.
An E.E. Cummings example: "i carry your heart with me"
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
What purposes might the weird punctuation serve (namely all of the parentheses all smashed together)?
What about the lack of capitalization?
PRO-TIP for poetry: You can bend and break the rules... BUT ONLY AFTER YOU KNOW THEM FIRST.
How does it change when read aloud?
a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and re-framing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.
Ex. 1: Lauren Zuniga, "Small Enough to Fit," a found poem comprised of things her son said.
Ex. 2: "This Circus Will Never Be the Same," from Donald Trump's Twitter
"Mrs. Dahmer," Sierra DeMulder (written from the chilling perspective/persona of serial killer Jeffery Dahmer's mother)
Poems written from a different perspective/viewpoint than the author's own
Persona Poems, pt. 2: "A Tree Story," by: Seth Walker
From what perspective is this piece written? How does it change its effect and impact on its audience?
a poet's deliberate pattern of lines that rhyme with other lines in a poem or a stanza. The rhyme scheme, or pattern, can be identified by giving end words that rhyme with each other the same letter.
Wanna know who is BAD at rhyming? KANYE: http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6877267/top-18-kanye-west-non-rhyme-rhymes
But anyway, for example, a LIMERICK's rhyme scheme is AABBA. Practice writing one right now about... the loudest fart in the world (no, I'm not kidding... DO IT).
NOTE: There is something to be said for SLANT rhymes, though. They are APPROXIMATE rhymes, as opposed to EXACT, or PRECISE, but I think it's a stretch to even call some of that Kanye stuff SLANT. Emily Dickinson loved to use SLANT rhyme. She also loved to write about death (as we saw last semester). As we read this Dickinson poem, "I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain," label the following components: stanzas (s.1, s.2, s.3, etc.), the rhyme scheme (it's a weird one), and then determine the TONE and STYLE.
Watch Lauren Zuniga's Ted Talk, in which she performs two of her poems, thick with imagery.
Make a list of the images that stand out to you most in each piece (at least 8-10 items for each).
Next, let's review SOUND devices.
Assonance: the repetition of the same VOWEL sounds (i.e. "purple curtain" and "pink cheeks")
Consonance: the repetition of the same CONSONANT sound two or more times in short succession, as in "pitter patter" or in "all mammals named Sam are clammy."
Alliteration: the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the BEGINNING of adjacent or closely connected words ("Sally sold sea shells at the seashore").
Onomatopoeia: the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g., cuckoo, sizzle, snap, crackle, pop!).
A found poem comprised of recent Donald Trump tweets:
Tune in, America:
This is the real deal!
I’m about to tell it like it is,
like Megyn Kelly
and Samuel L. Jackson do:
The elephants are retiring—
this circus will never be the same.
I don’t cheat at golf,
or my husband Bill Clinton,
even though he is so average in every way,
a true misogynist,
but who the hell would want to woo him?
Happy birthday to my son, the Media.
Let the truth be known:
he loves me,
the self-funded racist,
the only true person of character.
I have been waiting for a long time
a terrible nation,
an electric sea of false terror,
set to the sounds of guns
and energized lying.
First come, first serve!
We will never ever be able to recover,
we will never ever recuperate.
Don’t blame me—
blame yourself, America,
after all, you begged me.
Couplet: a pair of successive
rhyming lines, usually of the same
Refrain: a phrase or line repeated
at intervals within a poem, especially
at the end of a stanza. Ex. "Jump back,
honey, jump back" in Paul Lawrence Dunbar's "A Negro Love Song."
Stanza: a grouping of lines separated from others in a poem.
Let's talk about some other forms, like for instance, the ghazal (pronounced "guzzle").
The ghazal was originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love. Modern ghazals can be about anything, though, like the one we are about to read together, "Hip-hop Ghazal," by Patricia Smith (the same poet who penned "34").
Ghazals consist of couplets. The first line, the second line, and from that point on, the SECOND LINE of every couplet end in the same word.
What will suffice for a true-love knot? Even the rain?
But he has bought grief’s lottery, bought even the rain.
“our glosses / wanting in this world” “Can you remember?”
Anyone! “when we thought / the poets taught” even the
After we died—That was it!—God left us in the dark.
And as we forgot the dark, we forgot even the rain.
Drought was over. Where was I? Drinks were on the house.
For mixers, my love, you’d poured—what?—even the rain.
No, not ARSE poetica (arse is an old-fashioned way to say 'butt'). Tina from Bob's Burgers would probably love that kind of poem, though.
ARS POETICA is a poem that explains the "art of poetry," or a
meditation on poetry using the form and techniques of a poem, i.e. Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry."