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Poetry Made by All

Re-Appropriated Text: Kate Bernheimer and the Potential of Fairy Tales

Kate Bernheimerby Julie Swarstad

Kate Bernheimer is the author of two novels, The Complete Tales of Ketzia Gold (2001) and The Complete Tales of Merry Gold (2006), as well a short story collection titled Horse, Flower, Bird (2010).  She has also edited several fairy-tale anthologies, including My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales (2010). Bernheimer is an alumna of the University of Arizona Creative Writing MFA Program.  She founded and edits the journal Fairy Tale Review and is Writer in Residence at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette each spring. She spends the rest of the year in Tucson.

A reading and discussion of "The Contemporary Fairy Tale" will take place at the UA Poetry Center on Wednesday, December 1, at 8:00 p.m.

Kate Bernheimer will read at the UA Poetry Center on Friday, December 3 at 8 p.m. along with fellow UA alum Joshua Marie Wilkinson.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

POL #4: A Difficult Poem

These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on the POL rubric category "Difficulty." Please comment with your own ideas about what makes for a difficult poem! This is #4 in our POL series. Other POL discussion threads include subjectivity of judging, what makes a good poetry recitation, and choosing a poem to recite.

Poetry Recitation: What makes for a "difficult" poem?

  • Length
  • Are we talking about difficult to memorize or difficult to perform?
  • Irregular meter and lack of rhyme (to memorize) 
  • Regular meter and rhyme (to perform)--for example, "The Jabberwocky"--how do you perform this poem well?
  • How inaccessible the the poem is. Related question regarding inaccessibility: Are you talking about diction and syntax? Or do you mean a 15-year-old girl trying to get into the mind of a 70-year-old man?

Please comment with your ideas about what makes for a difficult poem.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

POL #3: Choosing a poem to recite

These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on how choosing a poem can determine the success of a recitation. Please comment with your own ideas! Other POL discussion threads include subjectivity of judging and what makes a good poetry recitation?

How does the poem chosen reflect or determine the success of the recitation?

  • There seem to be waves of students choosing similar poems each year.
  • But it's really important to let the students choose their own poems; they have so little choice about what they read at school, and this is a chance for them to select something to which they might really connect.
  • It's important to expose kids to a whole range of poems so they know what's out there.  Also, they need to see the difference between poems on a page and spoken poems.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Poetry Joeys: Heroines

Two heroine stories from Poetry Joys this fall.

Poetry Joeys is a Saturday morning reading and writing activity group for children ages 4-10. Teaching artists inspire participants to develop their flexibility with language through creative movement and reading and writing poetry. Upcoming Poetry Joeys on Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Heroine
by Emberly

I Dr. Savdenarow have a story to tell you, a story that is beyond a story, to be worth telling. Some people that watch cow documentaries know about me but not many. I save cows and buffalo. Some of my favorite cows and buffalo are Gopi and Ayapahsah. Well one day I decided to take a trip to Ghana. I'd heard of a new ibex hunter named Jospeh Demelo. When I arrived I started off to a national park where many ibex were and lured about three packs with my wheat. I traveled back the next day with my ibex for soon I'd be going back.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

POL #2: Judging and Subjectivity

These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on judging and subjectivity issues. Please comment with your own ideas!

How do you and your students grapple with issues of subjectivity in the judging process?

  • The performances you like aren't always the ones that win--the numbers on the rubric dictate who wins.
  • Conflict of interest--teaching/coaching vs. judging.  It's much easier to just be a teacher and coach than have to be a teacher, coach and judge.
  • The judges struggle with the subjectivity of the rubric categories--each can interpret differently, for example, "Level of Difficulty"--what makes for a difficult poem? Is it length? Is it irregular meter and lack of rhyme? Is it how inaccessible the writing of the poem is? 
  • This issue of subjectivity often is an adult conflict rather than a student conflict.
  • The new required categories of poems help increase the level of sophistication of the poems chosen. (Make sure to check the list--POL has retired many poems this year!)
  • The judges may need time to "warm up" - the people who went first consistently didn't didn't do as well.  Maybe this year we should have a few past winners start first to warm up the judges?
  • There needs to be diversity on the judging panel.
  • First time judging is really hard.
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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

HOWL: A review

You would think that "starving, hysterical, naked," the most iconic phrase of Allen Ginsberg's poem "HOWL" and perhaps even of the Beat Generation, would come to describe the film built to represent it. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's film, however, is a nontraditional docudrama soaring through windows of courtrooms, coffeehouses, and Ginsberg's immaculate apartment, searching for cohesion with audience in tow.  At first it seems that Epstein and Friedman may have missed the mark with adorable Franco, his trendily decorated apartment, smoothed-over CGI (computer-generated imagery) sequences, and such a higher-ed slant on obscenity trials that university affiliates whooped during the screening. But then you realize what happened: The writer/directors hit their mark just fine, missing Ginsberg's by - dare I say a generation? - without so much as a nod to the distinction.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

POL #1: What makes a good poetry recitation?

These are responses from our Poetry Out Loud professional development discussion on what makes a good poetry recitation. Please comment with your own ideas!

  • Having [the POL] rubric is very helpful.  There are clearly lineated guidelines and categories for which students can practice.
  • Students have to have a connection to the poem.  It can't just be any poem.  The student understanding the poem is really important to the performance.
  • The student has to "own" it--tell it like their story.
  • Poetry recitations very different than poetry readings (by poet).  The student has to bring it to life but can't over-do it (with gestures, etc.)
  • You have to break down the line to discover where the emphasis feels right
  • Force yourself to stand still in front of a mirror and pay attention to where your body wants to move--then work in the (subtle) gesture later.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Poetry Joeys: Kitchen Stories

Three stories from Poetry Joys this fall.

Poetry Joeys is a Saturday morning reading and writing activity group for children ages 4-10. Teaching artists inspire participants to develop their flexibility with language through creative movement and reading and writing poetry. Upcoming Poetry Joeys on Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.

Photo Credit: Cybele Knowles

Bag of Flour
by Liam M.

Once upon a time there was a bag of flour named Bob. His friends are Joe the Blender and Peter the Spoon. All of them live with a cranky grandma and a weird grandpa. They come alive at midnight. The cranky grandma and the weird grandpa don't know their utensils come alive! Bob really wants to go to China.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Ballistics and Other Resources for Bringing Billy Collins to Students

by Julie SwarstadBallistics by Billy Collins

Born in 1941, Billy Collins was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001-2003.  He has published eight collections of poetry, including Sailing Alone Around the Room (Random House 2001), The Trouble with Poetry (Random House 2005), and most recently Ballistics (Random House 2008).  Collins is the recipient of numerous awards including Poetry's 1994 Poet of the Year Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.  He is currently a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College at the City University of New York.

Collins will be reading for the UA Poetry Center's 50th Anniversary Celebration at Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus on Sunday, November 7th at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available through UA Presents.

Billy Collins has been called "America's Most Popular Poet" by Time Magazine, reflecting the enormous appeal his work has for a variety of audiences.  Ballistics, his latest collection, is a great choice for introducing students to this former Poet Laureate's work. 

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Mood and Tone at Halloween

by Elizabeth MariaThe Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Falcón

I taught a Halloween lesson at Apollo Middle School last fall that centered around mood and tone.  I began by reading the opening of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book:

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade

finer and sharper than any razor.  If it sliced you, you might

not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010
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