ENG 326 Writing Poetry: Intermediate
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Note: My intermediate poetry class is wrapping up their discussion of Erika L. Sánchez’s Lessons on Expulsion. All three of these poems appear in the final section of the book, and they model two approaches of the “function” of a poem. In the first exercise, students will list humiliations and embarrassments in a move toward candor and intimacy, and, in the second, they will think about the rhetoric of the imperative, its insistence and (sometimes) hesitance.
10/19 Writing Exercises: “Poem of My Humiliations” and “Admit It”
We will do two back-to-back writing exercises based on three poems by Erika L. Sánchez—“Poem of My Humiliations” for the first, and “Circles” and “Six Months after Contemplating Suicide” for the second—if time allows.
Writing Exercise #1: “Poem of My Humiliations”
- Re-read “Poem of My Humiliations” (62) by Erika L. Sánchez. Discuss.
- Craft a poem that is a list of things that humiliated or embarrassed you (only use things with which you’re comfortable sharing). You must create single-sentence stanzas with no line breaks.
Writing Exercise #2: “Admit It”
- Re-read “Circles” (64) and “Six Months after Contemplating Suicide” (72). Discuss.
- Write a poem in which you use the imperative mode (an insistent instruction)— “Admit it”—to the self or (a real or imagined) beloved.
Writing Exercise: “Code Switch”
- Read a little bit about the linguistic concept of “code-switching.”
- Now, let’s apply it to your creative writing. Create a dramatic situation in which a first-person narrator has to switch between two different types of language in her narration and in her dialogue, e.g. her dialogue with her best friend is informal but, in telling the story to a wider audience, she uses proper grammar and more meditative language.
- For an added challenge, you can add in a third act of code-switching, i.e. your narrator might talk one way in her narration, one way to her best friend on the phone, and one way with her mother while they are out to lunch.
Note: Please take care to avoid cultural appropriation with this exercise in code-switching. To do so, you might try taking on acts of code-switching that are familiar to you and your discourses.
Proposal for a new form, because I’m writing in it . . .
A “Boulder” is wedged somewhere between a prose poem and a micro-essay, as if between a rock and a hard place, but gestures toward fiction through its willingness to engage in absurd scenarios instigated by the true occasions or circumstances introduced in the title. At under 500 words, it is a rhetorical form that posits itself as another form (i.e. a disclaimer, parable, alternate history, etc.) and it must respond in some way to STUPID SHIT (i.e. sexist, discriminatory, or otherwise dumb-dumb things) said to the speaker. Figuratively, the “Boulder” can be seen as a roadblock, avalanche, or agent of Wile. E. Coyote-style injury.
I have written three so far and I’ve started several more. An example of one of the titles: “An Alternate History In Response to the Man Who Told Me Canned Biscuits Ruined America.”