Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing Poetry THE LONG POEM

This is a great piece about the long poem and I have given you a great day to curl up with some hot tea and give it a read. I think it can help you imagine better how to work an idea into long poem form.

Randall Jarrell

Taije Silverman

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Poetry Reading Tonight at Bossy Grrls

Bossy Grrl's
2598 N. High Street
Phone 614-725-5402

Hannah Stephenson, Darren DemareeNathan Moore and yours truly are all reading tonight.
7:00 p.m.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Contemporary Lit. Classes


09/16 Tuesday: Dickinson in-class writing assignment

09/18 Thursday: Dickinson discussion completed.
HOMEWORK: Read A Brief Guide to Modernism
T.S. Eliot
Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

09/23 Tuesday Introduction to Modernism. Begin Eliot discussion
Read Wallace Stevens bio. 
The Snow Man
Sunday Morning

09/25 Thursday Discussion
Homework: Read William Carlos Williams bio.
Also: This is Just to Say
So Much Depends
Spring and All

09/30 Modernist discussion

Begin preparing for your Imitation assignment. The assignment (described below) will be due a week from today OCTOBER 2 and the BEGINNING of class, typed and proofread, etc.

The Imitation Poem and MANDATORY Process Letter:
Choose one of the poets whom we have discussed and write a poem (15 line minimum) that employs some of the same techniques.

In addition to the imitation, you will write a 200 hundred word minimum letter explaining the way you approached the assignment. Example: I chose to imitate Poem X. My poem is written in quatrains with a set rhyme scheme. Poem X is written in quatrains, as well, but the rhyme scheme ABAB whereas I used the ABBA pattern.....


 H  10/02 Modernist discussion continues.

T 10/07 T.S. Eliot discussion complete Begin Wallace Stevens

H 10/09  Sunday Morning discussion

T 10/14 Complete Sunday Morning, start WCM discussion

H 10/16 William Carlos Williams
Homework: Read Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin

White Angel by Michael Cunningham

And only the section called To Robby in John Edgar Wideman's book

T 10/21 Discussion of stories
Homework: Read Everyday Use by Alice Walker

H 10/23 Discussion Everyday Use and themes intersecting it and our other stories.
Homework: Read Robert Frost's bio.
 Out, Out
After Apple-Picking
Acquainted with the Night
Home Burial
Stopping By Woods...
For Once, the Something

T 10/28 & H 10/30 Dear Students:

I have made arrangements to have teachers come in and send around a roll sheet. Please be sure that you sign it.  In addition, we will be watching two videos on two literary figures. The instructions for both days are the same:

Please take down a minimum of eight quotes as you are watching the video. Choose statements that resonate for you and choose from the beginning, middle and later moments of the dvd. Write those quotes down as you hear them, they will be part of the assignment.

Type the quotes at the top of your page.

Then, using at least three of those quotes, write some sort of 200 word response. The response can be a poem, a letter, a scene where one character is the literary figure or you can write a page about how that idea factors into your own creative process. Please proofread these and have them ready to be turned-in on Thursday, November 4. 


Let's say my literary figure video on Tuesday was Ezra Pound. I begin by listing the eight quotes that I used to inspire my Tuesday writing by typing-up those handwritten quotes that I took down while watching the video in class and placing them at the top of the page.
 1. A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.   2. War is made to make debt  3. Literature is news that stays news  4. If a nation's literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays. 5. Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea  6. Technique is the test of sincerity. If a thing isn't worth getting the technique to say, it is of inferior value. 7. One measure of a civilization, either of an age or of a single individual, is what that age or person really wishes to do. A man's hope measures his civilization. The attainability of the hope measures, or may measure, the civilization of his nation and time. 8. Any general statement is like a check drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it.

Then, I decide how I want to go about approaching the assignment. Perhaps, I want to write a prose poem/imaginary letter back to Pound.

Dear Ezra,

Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea. The words you spoke caused you so much misery. 
What hadn't you botched? The gold confused with the dross? If literature is news that stays news, then that news was good news, but you spoke, Ezra and nations shook in their shoes for you. Not the way you intended, but the way that history holds its light straight through you so that the shadows inside you and the shadow you cast were monstrous. A slave is one who waits, Ezra, after all.

Or maybe, I've been working on a photo-series and see parallels in what he said about writing or what was said about him and my project. I might then use the quotes as take-off points to talk about my own process. 

One measure of a civilization, either of an age or of a single individual, is what that age or person really wishes to do. A man's hope measures his civilization. The attainability of the hope measures, or may measure, the civilization of his nation and time.
 I have been thinking a lot about hope lately. In some of my photography, I began to take an interest in the wear on a person's face. What it means to be worn and where in the lines there might be those formed by hope or what hope does when it leaves a body. I walk around, I take pictures. I think about hope. I look for it later in objects. What is that flower left on a fire hydrant, so posed, so deliberate, if not some measure of hope. I focus on it and try to consider the way I light it or the level of sharpness as another kind of attempt to frame hope. 

NOTE TO STUDENTS: These are just some examples I wrote quickly to show you how I might go about writing these pieces. Yours can be done employing two different techniques or using the same approach with both writers. I only ask that you have your eight quotes for EACH FIGURE at the top of the page and a minimum of 200 words used FOR EACH FIGURE. The way you go about using these ideas and words is largely open. Grammar, typing, and punctuation count.  Email me with any confusion.  

T  11/04 Frost Discussion
Homework:  Formal Poetry Examples:  Elizabeth Bishop "One Art" & "Sestina"
Dylan Thomas "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night"

H 11/06 Frost & Hughes discussion continued. Intro to Formal Poetry Assignment.
Homework:  Your formal assignment will be due the Tuesday 11/18. Remember to include the 200 word minimum process sheet.  

T 11/11 Formal poetry discussion
Homework: Read A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by Joyce Carol Oates

H 11/13  Stories discussion.
Homework: New York School Poets & The Beats

T 11/18   Discussion
Homework: Confessionalist Poets

H 11/20  Confessionalists Discussion

T 11/25 Discussion continued.
H 11/27 NO CLASS. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Poet With Whom I Will be Dining This Evening


Hey there,

In preparing for the dinner, I found some things by Mark Doty that might help you all as you prepare to write your poems.

This tracks the first images to the making of a specific poem.

This essay is on Halloween, William Blake and devils. Just because.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Students One & All, (But Especially Contemporary Lit.)

Writing Poetry your links:

Sonnet. Sestinas. Pantoums and Villanelles can be found here: as well as  

And these glossaries of literary and poetic terms should be useful to all classes.  (They can really help you with your imitation and formal assignments and are invaluable for class discussion).



I have to leave earlier than expected for the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Wick Poetry Center. My husband's sudden departure left me with some pressing responsibilities and the inability to address them all before I have to take off.

I have arranged for substitutes for both classes. Roll will be taken and a film will be shown. This is the one on Ezra Pound. It is fascinating and very important as we begin to discuss Modernism. Please be there and attentive to it. No phones, laptops or naps, please. This is a really interesting figure in poetry and I expect everyone to be quiz-ready and fully present for the showing. Make our class look good. Have a wonderful weekend. Email me with any questions or concerns.

Thanks for understanding. Please know that I go in representation of our fine school and all of you of whom I could not be more proud. See you next week!

Friday, September 19, 2014

All Classes

This is one of the best contemporary poets we've got. AND he is a visual artist. And a musician. Who says you can't be art-school all-around rock stars?

Watch this and we'll talk about some of his work later.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Contemporary Lit.

September 9-11

T: Quiz, Whitman discussion
Homework: Essay on Dickinson's Fasiscles


This link gets you to a listing of the poems

Please read the following poems:

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

A Route of Evanescence

I Dwell in Possibility

I Felt a Funeral in my Brain

My Life had Stood--a Loaded Gun

Tell all the truth but tell it slant

There's a Certain Slant of Light

I Would Not Paint a Picture

Thursday: Dickinson discussion (be quiz-ready, look up an words you don't know as you are reading)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Contemporary Literature Section 01 & 02 Homework Week One

T Introduction.
Discussion of Course goals and readings. Your readings will be posted by author and title and you will be expected to locate the text.* This is my compromise in exchange for a textbook and I will be expected you to take full responsibility for finding the posted works. Please note that this course will be heavier in poetry content, as it is easy to discuss a smaller piece fully in class and to teach close reading through it. We will look at other genres, but if you have a real aversion to verse, this may not be the section for you. Homework: Re-Read: and come in with a 250 word minimum analysis of the poem. Note any literary techniques it employs. Rhyme scheme or lack. Everything you notice about its structure and construction. Then address content. What is a one line plot summary for the poem? What is the tone? Is any stanza more sincere than any other?

H Discussion of close reading. Literary techniques. How to read and discuss literature.
Homework: Come in with one title of a piece of writing that affected you.
Write down what it was and why, as well as anything you notice about its form and construction. We will discuss each of these in class next week.
Read: As a summer send-off, I thought we’d look at this poem by John Tobias (it gets taught in high schools, and you might have read it. If so, check it out again for discussion.)
Reflections On a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

Also, this biographical essay on Walt Whitman

and this one:
Adventures in Anaphora

and this essay:

PLUS the following poems:
O Captain! My Captain!

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer Speak

Song of Myself 36

Please come to class “quiz ready” on these materials. Take notes for discussion. The more you participate, the more likely your grade will reflect that boost.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Reading Homework

Amy Hemphel Aimee Bender Selections from Sudden Fiction p. 1-19 (All the stories available in the preview of google docs through The Twirler)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three Elements

A stolen ring, fear of spiders, and a sinister stranger. A taxi, an old enemy, and Valentine's Day. Identical twins, a party invitation, and a locked closet. A broken wristwatch, peppermints, and a hug that goes too far. Aerobics, a secret diary, and something unpleasant under the bed. An ex-boyfriend, a pair of binoculars, and a good-luck charm. An annoying boss, a bikini, and a fake illness. The first day of school, a love note, and a recipe with a significant mistake. A horoscope, makeup, and a missing tooth. A campfire, a scream, and a small lie that gets bigger and bigger.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Week One Monday: Introduction. In-class writing from paint swatch phrases. Tension discussion: story vs. incident. HOMEWORK: Readings: Girl by Jamaica Kinkaid Hills Like White Elephants Ernest Hemingway What we Talk About When we Talk About Love Raymond Carver How to Become a Writer Lorrie Moore Lust Susan Minot Polish your in-class story/scene/start and bring in a minimum of 250 words to discuss in class. For anyone who needs to catch up, here is a version of what we did in class: For the writing portion, we used words/phrases off paint swatches and began with the line: We stepped into -------, then ------------- and then Begin a story by filling in those blanks and continuing to write from there using as many of the phrases from the paint swatch "word bank" as possible. Word bank: Fine Wine, Tidal, Stormfront, Decanting, Graphite, Sailor's Bay, Ink-Dark Moonscape, Pink Damask, Fire Alarm, Plum jam, Madeline steps, January sea, Dune, Licorice Twist, Coldwater Rose, Midnight sidewalk, Orion's belt, Biscuit, Baby blanket, Sunwashed Coast, Buttery.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Contemporary Lit. The Readings for Presentations.

9:30 Class: Instruction Manual John Ashbery . 2645 EmilyMasley Ulysses Gwendolyn Brooks p. 2504 Timothy Kuhne Portrait of a Madonna Tennessee Williams p. 2320 What we Talk about when we Talk about Love Raymond Carver p. 3013 Lady Lazarus Sylvia Plath p. 2840 In the Field by Tim O' Brien The Fish Elizabeth Bishop 2314 The Man Moth Elizabeth Bishop Dova ste Amore Laurence Ferlinghetti p. 2256 Young Housewife Anne Sexton 2834 Lost in the Funhouse by John Barth 2797 For the Union Dead Robert Lowell 2504 Hart Crane Robert Creeley 2634-35 Stations by Audre Lorde 2896 ------------------------------------------------ 12:30 Class Root Cellar Theodore Roethke p. 1906 I put on my Jacket. p. 2661 Heavy Women Sylvia Plath (google search) Ducks Naomi Shihab Nye Entropy Thomas Pynchon Beneath the Freeway Lorna Dee Cervantes Conversion of the Jews Roth The Rats Philip Levin 2663 Where are you Going... Joyce Carol Oates 3043 America Allen Ginsberg Counting Small-Boned Bodies Robert Bly 2755 My Heart Frank O'Hara 2641 I am a Cowboy... Ishmael Reed 3056 Who Among You Knows... Garrett Hongo 2945 From a Survivor Adrienne Rich

Monday, April 14, 2014

Contemporary Literature

04/14 Discussion of stories. Homework: These are the stories we will be discussing next: The Conversion of the Jews by Philip Roth Cathedral by Raymond Carver and To Robby (go to this link: and read page 2 beginning with "Stories are letters" and read to the bottom of the page. Homework: Select a piece of literature from your anthology and respond to it in a piece of art (any genre or medium including prose/music/photography/poetry/visual art/film/animation/comic etc.) Be prepared to present your piece to the class on April 24th. An example: I read Poppies by Sylvia Plath and produce a series of photographs taken at an abattoir (slaughterhouse) or or the Bluebird response in video that we watched in response to Bukowski or... you name it. THESE PIECES MUST BE READY ON TIME in order for me to be able to get them graded and allow for any extra time needed. On April 14th or 16th, please plan to let the class know what you will be presenting upon so that we might read it in advance of your presentation. This will be your final assignment for the course, so make it meaningful. (When you arrive in class on Wednesday, go up to the board and write the title, author, and page number.)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Contemporary Literature Readings

Reading Homework: Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin Scarlet Ibis by James Hearst White Angel by Michael Cunningham Everyday Use by Alice Walker The Conversion of the Jews by Phillip Roth 04/07-04/11 M: Discussion of Baldwin, Hearst and Cunningham W: Discussion of Roth & Walker Homework: Reading: The Beat Movement Introduction The Source Homework: Select a piece of literature from your anthology and respond to it in a piece of art (any genre or medium including prose/music/photography/poetry/visual art/film/animation/comic etc.) Be prepared to present your piece to the class, on the last week of April. Prior to that, by April 14, please plan to let us know what you will be presenting upon so that we might read it in advance of your presentation. This will be your final assignment for the course, so make it meaningful. 04/14-04/18 M Readings discussed W Readings discussed

Friday, March 28, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Contemporary Lit. Schedule

Mar. 24-26
Formal verse discussion. Elizabeth Bishop's Sestina and her villanelle: One Art, as well as Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into the Good Night.  (NOTE: Both links to the villanelles can be found off to the left of the description of the villanelle on the link above.)
W        “ continued.
(For Reference) Formal Poems:   Wilfred Owen. John Ashbery, James Cummins, Elizabeth Bishop, (see above) Marianne Moore, Robert Hayden
You can elect to write either a sonnet, villanelle or sestina for your formal verse assignment. That poem, in addition to a short note detailing your process will be due one week from today. 

Reading Homework:  Read:  Everyday Use by Alice Walker. Cathedral by Raymond Carver. (Walker and Carver to be discussed on Monday)

FRIDAY: Screening of Angels in America (Canzani) AND from 5-8  the Botticelli rebranding event in the Canzani atrium. 

Mar 31-April 2
 Discussion Carver & Walker
Formal Poems  & process notes due at the beginning of class.
HOMEWORK:  Reading

April 7-9
M  Discussion
Discussion  Formal poems due today.

April 14-16

NY School Readings. 
H 10/25  Discussion
Homework: Charles Bukowski readings

At your leisure:

Apr 21-23 


Apr 28-30


May 7-9

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Adv. CW Writing Prompts

In Russia, a former schoolteacher was accused of stabbing a friend during a discussion of whether poetry or prose was the most important literary form.

Man arrested allegedly trying to sell jars of stolen brains at Dairy Queen.

Border collie was re-homed after chewing through the wheel arch of her owner's Asten Marten.

Two performance artist are living on hamster wheel for ten days.

A man arrested in Philadelphia for exposing his genitalia while fondling Swiss cheese.

Australian performance artist knits from wool inserted in her vagina.

ADV. CW Here is your reading

From the Pushcart Prize anthology (for my creative writing class,) please read the following for next week's discussions.

The Piece Need Not be Built by Andrew Zolot  (Thom G.)  p. 302
Self-Port. with Exit Words by Ocean Vuong (Jared S.) p. 257
Ways to Begin  by Rachel Rose (Cooper S.) p. 41

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Contemporary Lit.

If you are interested in the differences between Modernism and Post Modernism.

Updated Rules (Contemporary Lit.)

REVISION to Modernist Assignment

1. Instead of 500 words, you can now write 25 lines or more of poetry. You can define a line however you wish (thin lines like cummings, long lines like Stevens, etc.)

2. Your process note explaining how you did and did not adhere to the ideas or forms (or formlessness) of the Modernists can now be 200 words minimum.

The assignment is due on Monday. 02/03/14

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Contemporary Literature Classes Syllabus Edits

WEEKEND:  (forgive the wonky formatting, for now, I want you to have a jump on the homework. More soon)
Reading Homework for Monday and Wednesday discussion (not to be on the quiz Monday).
Read this Intro   as well as the bio and listed poems for the following poets:
Ezra Pound In a Station of the Metro  The River Merchant's Wife
T.S. Eliot Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
Wallace Stevens Sunday Morning,  The Emperor of Ice Cream, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird The Snowman
and Mina Loy  Lost Lunar Baedeker and Moreover, the Moon
Your first assignment will involve an imitation piece or series from the works we’ve read. (500 word minimum). It can be written  in a variety of forms (essay,poetry, formal, etc.) as long as it meets the word count. One way to tackle this might be to write a poem by the light of one of these pieces and then to write a short letter or essay piece that describes your process: how you worked from the imitation and how you worked away from or against it.

Feb 17-19
M 2nd Quiz on Frost
Discussion Introduction to Modernism, Sunday Morning

W Wallace Stevens discussion. 9:30 class is being observed this day so show-off those gorgeous brains of yours, pretty please?
(12:30 should show-off just as a reward to me for going through the evaluation process.

Feb 24-26
M Modernism discussion continued
Homework:  Next readings TBA

W  Modernist discussion concluded
Turn in your Modernist imitation assignment
Mar 3-5  (Midterm)
M Modernism Quiz
Homework: Readings TBA

Mar 10-12
M Formal Poem Discussion Begins


Mar 17-19

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


I have sent all of you an email, but to avoid any confusion, please note that I am sick today and our class will be cancelled.  I will see all of you on Monday. Please read Robert Frost  here. The biographical materials (the essay that serves as an overview to his life and works) as well as the following poems: Out Out.       After Apple Picking,     Acquainted with the Night,   Birches,   Design,     Home Burial.    Mowing,  Stopping By Woods,      The Oven Bird,  The Road Not Taken.

Read them carefully and we'll go over them class.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

ADV. CW Homework

1. Remember to read and comment on the workshop pieces, inclusive of your 200 word min. letter to the writer.
2. If you're in the second group for workshop, be sure to have your pieces ready and 11 copies for distribution.

Our in-class writing assignment (shown in full below) should be typed in to your computer and added to through  instructions #5 & 6.

cicada wing 
sycamore bark
dragon/star fruit or pineapple
down comforter or quilt
old radio
1. describe the object without looking it up or doing research
2. Have an existing/cube character engage with the object in a scene
3. Using some aspect of the object in name or design, name a business (bar, hotel, shop, barbershop, café, etc.) and stage a scene in there using a character and one character off the cube.
3. Doing some research, include a fact or two in a scene that is not directly related to the object.
4. Write a scene.  Have the object change in some way in the course of a scene.

Contemporary Literature Homework Addendum

Hey Everyone,

For Monday, please have a typed 200 word minimum write-up about the poem you selected, as well as the title, website and poet's name. (You could also just print it up and attach it.)

For the 200 words, you can talk about form, content, literary moves (rhyme, meter, metaphor, etc.) and what it was that made the poem intriguing to you.

Make sure you proofread for grammar and typographical accuracy.

See you soon!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Contemporary Literature Homework

From the list of the following online journals, I would like you to find a poem that you find effective or moving in some way.  Come to class prepared to turn in the title of the poem and where it's located. I'll select from them randomly and we'll discuss them.

The Diagram

                 Poetry Daily

                                                                       VERSE DAILY

* Note that on many of these, the archives link will get you many more options from which to make your selection.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Contemporary Lit Books First Come, First Served Announcement

Hi there,

I am about to put the word out to all my former CL students for selling their books.

One of them already offered hers for $20.  (Remember you wouldn't have shipping costs.)

If you're interested email me and I'll have you meet her and pick it up.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

All Contemporary Lit. Students

I am hearing that you're trying to buy books from the bookstore.

They will be $60. that way.

I am wondering why you wouldn't try to order from Amazon?  Let's discuss this further tomorrow, but I think that Barnes & Noble or Amazon or one of those types of stores (online) are you best, most economical options.

Monday, January 13, 2014


Austin Burnside is gathering work for a show


Deadline: 01/20

Gallery:  Byers (DSB)
Feb. 1- Feb. 8th