11 September 2012

Found poets

My COMPASS Lab usually gets to choose what to blog about day to day, but today is not just any day.

Up until now, we have primarily focused on getting used to reading challenging texts of the prose fiction, natural sciences, social sciences, and practical reading varieties.Today's article would probably fall under the humanities category for COMPASS Test text types, but the focus was diverted a little more into writing territory, especially rhetorical skills like style and strategy.

Say what you will about poetry in the classroom, but I  think having students write found poetry from "Gravity's Rainbow" by Richard Lacayo was probably not only a way to have students reflect on the significance of that other Day that Will Live in Infamy 11 years ago, but also to make them think about word choice and the power of language. I mean, they were picking out some juicy lines--a useful reading analysis skill in itself--and the way they were combining them...at first they probably did it just to be done, but when I looked over their shoulders and read what they had actually put together...it was juicier still. Meaty, even. I think we'll spend some serious time analyzing their poetry in preparation for the COMPASS Test after this!

If you are interested in what they came up with, I am collecting students' entries on a 9/11 Memoriam Diigo list as they turn them in, and I created a Voicethread for students to respond to some of my favorites. (They were supposed to comment on either the author's line breaks, word choice, pace, or tone.)

If you are interested in what I came up with, here is my found poem contribution:

A whole is a lost opportunity,
But scale has a power.
2,983 dead would be inscribed on walls:
A mingling that speaks of many lives,
An intimacy
That will open,
Irresistibly drawing
Before the backdrop
Plunged through the surface.

Cleanly manufactured voids,
Two giant, churning memory machines:
Cut all the way through, actually.

The perimeter of both voids
Linked to the surrounding neighborhood,
Dead close to those of friends,
Co-workers who also died that day:
A cynical collection,
Scorched by the fires of the attack.
Who surrounded the voids?

A primordial force might be kept open:
Sacred ground and secular hangout,
Called-for pools--
As though they were drains
All in various stages--
Can’t quite summon
How much a bare bones design can
Leave you there,
Far below,
Through it every day.
Reach into your feelings about the grave.
Soften its hard edges.

Reason alone,
Reasons of cost and crowd,
First into separate rivulets,
Swept away
In this immense memorial.

Visitors will require
Drawing of an impossible idea,
Deposit feelings
Not consecrated to money making.

It might have been possible
to place the names,
Possible to enter
Contemplative space,
Its ancient power to console,

That wounded pit
Surrounds them ever.
Footprints of the towers
Ignored the instruction.
Potent excavations will end,
His own scheme
Like that restive, riderless horse
In the funeral procession.

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