Friday, January 22, 2010

Shakespeare--Performance assignment #1 (2010)

Link to instructions for Hamlet performance assignment

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

AP--another option for writing about poetry

For this assignment, if you wish, you might consider forms other than the expository essay as a way to "waterski across the poem, waving at the author's name." You may, for example, choose to enter into the human experience of the poem by rewriting the poem in another form. You could do so by writing an interior monologue of the speaker's thoughts and feelings, by writing a short story that contains the essential experience conveyed through the poem, by writing a letter from one character in the poem to another. Your writing could take whatever form, whether essay or something else, you think will best convey the essential qualities of the poem. The one requirement is that what you write must remain true to the original poem in some important way.

One of my favorite student pieces, written over 20 years ago by Miko McGinty, takes us into a famous William Carlos Williams poem about forbidden fruit:

Beyond What I (He) Just Said

I walked into the kitchen late this morning, and found a note from my lover. The note was a poem.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I woke at daybreak. I stretched and looked at the woman in bed with me. And smiled. She was tangled in the sheets, her legs were bare, but the night had been warm, and she looked comfortable. I showered and dressed and went into the kitchen. In the icebox were two plums, so purple they were almost black. They were firm and cold and when I bit into the first one, the juice dripped onto my fingers. They were the sweetest plums I have ever eaten. I left a note for her to explain why I had eaten them.

I read the note, and smiled. He enjoys life, he takes pleasure in small things, events. He is teaching me to enjoy them too, by sharing. He is considerate--his leaving a note tells me that. He did not take those plums for granted. He is not a taker, he ate them and appreciated them. He gives to me his love, he gives his experiences. He gives me this note. Through the poem I share in the eating. I can see him biting the plum, his skin as dark, though the color of the earth instead of the color of the night sky. He savors the flesh, he sees the beauty in the event. Of course I forgive him. I love him.

I think about her, finding the note, perhaps smiling. I think about how the plums are like our life together, delicious and sweet, meant to be enjoyed. I know she understands the underlying message--the love that I wove into the note. It is wonderful that we now live together, that the icebox is not hers or mine but just "the" icebox. It is wonderful that I can leave a note explaining I ate "the" plums, not her plums. It is wonderful that I can leave a note that addresses day to day life.

He leaves me this note, just a short note. But it says more than I ate the plums, it says we live together, it says I want to share with you. It just says I love you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

AP--Poems for Discussion

Section 1
M 1/11--LCC--My Last Duchess 668
Tu 1/12--LCC--Metaphors (771) & "Swan and Shadow" (885)
Th 1/14--Christina--"The Silken Tent" p. 780
Fr 1/15--Brian--"A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" p. 1102
Tu 1/19--Sarah--"Those Winter Sundays" p. 1173
Th 1/21--Sophie B--"My Papa's Waltz" p. 674
Fr 1/22--Kevin--"When I Have Fears" p. 1129
Mo 1/25--Alex--"Dover Beach" p. 1078
Tu 1/26--Ariel--"Death Be Not Proud" p. 1101
Th 1/28--Hannah--"The World is Too Much With Us" p. 912
Fr 1/29--Maude--"That Time of Year" p. 1163
Mo 2/1--Sophie L--"Her Kind"--687
Tu 2/2 Basil White Lies 680
Th 2/4 Yuka Lady Lazarus 934
Fr 2/5 Katie When You Are Old 1190
Mo 2/8 Michael Dulce et Decorum Est 698
Tu 2/9 Patrick To an Athlete Dying Young 1124

Section 2
M 1/11 LCC My Last Duchess 668
W 1/13 LCC Metaphors 771 & Swan and Shadow 885
Th 1/14 Peter The Unknown Citizen 690
Fr 1/15 Margo My Papa's Waltz 674
W 1/20 Bianca Traveling Through the Dark 991
Th 1/21 Spenser Death Be Not Proud 1101
Fr 1/22 David White Lies 680
Mo 1/25 MargLiu Neutral Tones 897
We 1/27 MargMc Those Winter Sundays 1173
Th 1/28 Taylor One Art 998
Fr 1/29 Josh When you Are Old 1190
M 2/1 Zach The World 912
W 2/3 Katharine When I Have Fears 1129
Th 2/4 Mackenzie Dover Beach 1078
F 2/5 Asmit Batter My Heart 709
M 2/8 Ari Since There's No Help 858
W 2/10 Diana 100 Love Sonnets 973
Th 2/11 Devika The Silken Tent 780

Why We Read Books

When you have read a book, you have added to your human experience. Read Homer and your mind includes a piece of Homer’s mind. Through books you can acquire at least fragments of the mind and experience of Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare—the list is endless. For a great book is necessarily a gift: it offers you a life you have not time to live yourself, and it takes you into a world you have not time to travel in literal time. A civilized human mind is, in essence, one that contains many such lives and many such worlds. If you are too much in a hurry, or too arrogantly proud of your own limitations, to accept as a gift to your humanity some pieces of the minds of Sophocles, of Aristotle, of Chaucer—and right down the scale and down the ages to Yeats, Einstein, E.B. White, and Ogden Nash—then you may be protected by the laws governing manslaughter, and you may be a voting entity, but you are neither a developed human being nor a useful citizen of a democracy.

--Poet and Professor John Ciardi, from a 1954 speech