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.