The Reading Series in the Classroom: Kate Bernheimer

Kate BernheimerThe Poetry Center’s Fall Reading Series kicks off this Thursday, August 30th at 7:00 p.m., featuring writers Cynthia Hogue and Kate Bernheimer. The Reading Series is a great way to teach writing and expose students to poetry, stories, and essays that they might not encounter in the classroom. This Fall, Wordplay will be writing a series of blog posts titled, “The Reading Series in the Classroom,” which will highlight a story or poem by writers from this Fall’s Reading Series. In addition to providing a story or poem for students to read, we’ll also provide a set of writing prompts, that both parents and teachers can utilize with their students. We hope that these posts will not only get your students writing, but that the posts will also expose them to our Reading Series. Kate's reading will be most salient for middle to high school students, so we're including this Extra Credit Worksheet and this great interview with local poet and teacher, Christopher Nelson. (Teachers: Feel free to download the worksheet and interview, which are both designed to help students reflect on our Poetry Readings. Please modify it as it suits your classroom needs.) Check out VOCA, our audio-video library, and watch this great reading with Kate Bernheimer.

Check out her short story, A Petting Zoo Tale, which also appeals to a K-5 audience. (After you read the story, check out this fun, interactive version of the story, from Born Magazine.) Then follow the writing prompts below.

  1. Many of the sentences in this story are short fragments. For example, “made of wood, poppies growing all around. Painted white. Dog on rope.” Can you write an imitation of Bernheimer’s story? Write a paragraph describing the inside or outside of your house, using short, staccato fragments.
  2. In Bernheimer’s story, the girl’s petting zoo has “two laying hens, a miniature pony, a goat, and three rabbits.” And the house is decorated with “painted walls various shades of pink [with] draped sparkly gauze over the windows. From ceiling, hand strand upon hand strand of Christmas lights.” Imagine if you could have a petting zoo at your house! Write a paragraph describing your dream petting zoo. Which animals would you include? What would your zoo look like?
  3. The story ends with the phrase, “all good animals have secrets.” Describe the secret life of an animal of your choice. For example, how would you describe the secret life of a turtle, a bear, a cricket?

Bernheimer has been called “one of the living masters of the fairy tale” by Tin House, and is the author of four books of fiction, most recently the final novel in a trilogy, The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold (FC2, 2011), and Horse, Flower, Bird, a collection of stories with illustrations by Rikki Ducornet (Coffee House Press, 2010). She has edited three anthologies including the World Fantasy Award–winning My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales (Penguin, 2010). Her fiction and critical essays have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Fence Magazine, Bookforum, Puerto del Sol, Bomb Magazine, Marvels & Tales: The Journal of Fairy-Tale Studies, and elsewhere. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Arizona, and is founding and acting editor of Fairy Tale Review.

Created on: 
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Arizona Board of Regents