Archive for July 22, 2010

Peggy Shumaker

Peggy started the morning talking about declarative sentences. She pointed out the differences between simply saying “I was terrified.” and “I was hoping to grow up to be a teenager,” and how much more the second sentence conveys. Then we discussed a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye: “Flinn on the Bus,” which led us into a discussion both of 9/11 and of how less can be more, and giving overwhelming things a face. Her homework assignment (should we choose to accept it) was to write a declarative sentence that does a lot of work–that develops character, place, time and that emphasizes evocative detail.

David Crouse

David gave us examples of people talking past each other. He read the short stoty, “Viewfinder” by Raymond Carter, and also acted out a conversation where the people were talking past each other–the daughter thinking to persuade her father to give up driving, the father seeing only how much like the aspects he did not like about her mother were coming out in the daughter. No specific homework, but he warned us he’d make up for it tomorrow.

Jeanne Clark

Jeanne recommended a series of books from Graywolf press. I didn’t get the whole list (Help, Jeanne) but they all start with “The art of…  She also recommended “Poetry in Person,” edited by Alexander Neubauer and based on tapes of Pearl London’s classes. Another was “Why do we write” in the July-Aug issue of Poets and Writers Magazine. She then returned to catalog poems, pointing out that:

Each line has an image or elaboration

Each line has the same beginning (or at most only a few phrases are used to begin lines)

Catalog poems can be part of a larger work, and they often help a writer to begin working again. The homework assignment was (guess what) continue to work on our category poems.

No afternoon session today, but our three guest writers are reading  at 5:30 in the UA Museum Education center. The reading is free and open to the public–just tell them at the desk that you’re here for the reading. At 7:00 there will be a book signing in the lobby of the museum.

Peggy suggested we read Rita Dove, “Thomas and Beulah.” and as an exercise (homework) she suggested we find evocative details in something we had written so far and make them work harder. She also listed e-mail addresses for the three faculty. Hers is peggyzoe at gmail dot com. (The form is to evade robot searches for e-mail addresses.)

David pointed out how a detail in a first draft can become the theme around which the story revolves. Homework: revise something you’ve written, keeping this in mind. e-mail:dcrouse1 at alaska dot edu.

Jeanne had several readings from class members and emphasized playing with images. She introduced the catalog poem and had us read three and discuss them:

Snow by W. S. Merwin

Freedom of Love, by André Bretou

Jubilate Agno, by David Lee, in memoriam Christopher Smart, 1722-1770

Not discussed was the pattern for Jubilate Agno, Christpher Smart’s Of Jeoffry, His Cat.

Our homework was to write a catalog poem.  Jeanne’s email address is bellestarrgang at gmail dot com

Theresa Bakker

Our afternoon guest writer was Theresa Bakker. She told us how she was pushed to using walking as a theme, and discussed a number of books on walking. These books were:

Joseph Amato: On Foot: A History of Walking

Geoff Nicholson: The Lost Art of Walking

Chet Raymo: The Path: A One-Mile Walk Through the Universe

Ned Rozell: Walking My Dog, Jane

Rebecca, Solnit: Wanderlust; A History of Walking

Henry D. Thoreau: Walking: Concord 1862

Edmund White: The Flaneur

We also discussed the difference in how we notice things when we are walking as opposed to driving.

We wound up with a discussion of the changes in the publishing industry.