Select a single line or image from one of Jenny Johnson’s poems in In Full Velvet.
Free write a poem that begins with this line or image co-opted from Johnson. This can be phrased exactly the same way that she phrases it, or you can change it up to best suit your own poem. Remember that this is a starting point, and you should feel free to move away from this inciting image.
This semester I am teaching Literature to Film, and I’ve assigned the following Short Film Adaptation of a Poem in order to offer my students, who come to the class from all majors, a chance to engage with poetry in a way they haven’t before, through a multimodal project that connects to our upcoming visiting writers event in April.
Short Film Adaptation of a Poem
This project requires that you and a partner select a single poem from either Aracelis Girmay or Jenny Johnson, Centenary’s Spring 2017 visiting poets, and create a short film adaptation of it to screen to our class and then again at A Reading by Aracelis Girmay and Jenny Johnson on Wednesday, April 15th. In completing this project, you will use a free video editing software like Splice or a similar program to render and support the poem through images and sound.
In preparation for this project, students have watched:
They have also had the good fortune of Skyping with Saara Myrene Raappana from Motionpoems and Kai Carlson-Wee, poet and filmmaker. This past Monday, the class also went over storyboarding, and actively created a short storyboard for their film adaptation, some of which I will share if the students give me permission.
The first drafts of these short films will be shown and critiqued in class next Monday, with final drafts screened at the reading by poets Aracelis Girmay and Jenny Johnson on Wednesday, April 12th.
A bound writing journal and writing utensil, required in every class*
*If you have accommodations for the use of a computer at all times, you may complete your writing journal electronically and will not need the bound writing journal. Please be sure that you provide me with your accommodation letter as soon as possible.
A Note About Ordering Books
If you choose not to order from the university bookstore, I encourage you to consider ordering books directly from the publisher. Cutting out the middleman helps ensure that publishers and authors are treated fairly in the transaction. Here are the links to our books on their publishers’ websites:
You can also make a difference with your book purchase by placing a special order with a local or regional bookstore, like Labyrinth Books in Princeton or Black Dog Books in Newton; an independent bookstore with online ordering, like Powell’s or Strand Bookstore; or a philanthropic independent seller like Better World Books.
Class: Intro to Creative Writing Genre: Poetry Readings: A poetry packet featuring the poems listed below Time: 30 minutes
Group 1: “Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them” (Shapiro) and “In the Waiting Room” (Bishop) Group 2: “Perpetually Attempting to Soar” (Ruefle) and “The Lovers of the Poor” (Brooks) Group 3: “Your Wild Domesticated Inner Life” (Banias) and “Dorothy’s Trash:” (Johnson) Group 4: “My Story in a Late Style of Fire” (Levis) and “The Day Lady Died” (O’Hara) Group 5: “The Mare of Money” (Reeves) and “In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes” (Corral) Group 6: “Scrabble with Matthews” (Wojahn) and “Ode to Browsing the Web” (Wicker) Group 7: “The streetlamp above me darkens” (Faizullah) and “A Pornography” (Rekdal) Group 8: “To a Fig Tree on 9th and Christian” (Gay) and “Animals Are Passing From Our Lives” (Levine)
Read each poem assigned to your group. Answer these questions:
What’s the dramatic situation of the poem? Meaning, what’s going on? What’s the scene or the conflict? (Ex. For Matthew Olzmann’s “Notes Regarding Happiness,” the speaker is attempting to post a happy birthday message on a friend’s Facebook wall.)
How does each poem get from its beginning to its end? Is it narrative (a story) and therefore moves in a linear fashion? Are there associative connections between images? Examine the relationship between images in these poems.
Describe the tone. Is the poet sincere?
Describe the style of this poem. Is the language conversational or esoteric? What does the poem sound like?
Describe the form of this poem. Is it in couplets? A single stanza? Etcetera? How long are the lines? Why do you think the poet chose this form?
Do these two poets have anything in common in terms of their style, strategies, or motivation for writing?
If you were going to write an imitation of one of these poets, who would you pick? How would you begin? Start drafting a few lines using the strategies you described above.