In this writing exercise inspired by Solmaz Sharif’s Look, students will explore using found language in order to create compelling dramatic situations.
Writing Exercise: “Look It Up”
- Select 4–5 words from Solmaz Sharif’s poems in Look. (These could be the DOD terms in small caps or her language.)
- Look up each of these words in the Oxford English Dictionary, available through the Taylor Memorial Library. Take notes on each of the definitions. Reflect: Did you know all of these definitions? Do you use these words differently?
- Write down these 4–5 words. What dramatic situation would include all of them?
- Free-write a poem in which you use all 4–5 words. Try to use the words in such a way that they make sense for this dramatic situation.
- Share. (Let’s type some of them up in the Group Notes document.)
This semester I started a Group Notes document in Google Drive, one for each of my classes. I created it so that students with learning differences would have built-in note-taking services; absent students could catch up on missed discussions; students could contribute insights they couldn’t, for whatever reason, share in class; students could add additional notes from their readings; and students wouldn’t lose their handwritten notes or have their typed notes lost in a computer crash.
For my Craft of Poetry class, it’s become a sort of playpen for our in-class writing exercises, where students can share their work and collaborate on things like lineation and formatting. It’s also incredibly easy to set up, and although I don’t yet have a majority of any three of my classes participating, the use of the resource by a few pioneering students has helped it gain some traction.
If my students give their permission and I can anonymize the contributors, I hope to share the documents in full after the Spring 2017 semester.