Sunday, June 30, 2013

Poetry Reading Series list

Strange Machine

Iowa City:
Strange Cage

Dollhouse Reads

Kyle and Nick's reading tour:

Terrible poets Kyle McCord and Nick Courtright bring the destruction of many gods upon the I-35 corridor. Beware and/or bring beer!


Austin, TX: Thursday, June 20th – Fun Party Reading Series – Tiny Park, 1101 Navasota Street, Suite 2, Austin, Texas 78702, 6:30 (w/ Karyna McGlynn)
Denton, TX: Friday, June 21st – Kraken Reading Series – Paschall’s Bar, 122 N. Locust St., Denton, Texas 76201, 6:00 pm (w/ Matt Haines)

Tulsa, OK: Saturday, June 22nd – Living Arts Gallery, 307 E Brady St Tulsa, OK 74120, 7:00 pm

Lawrence, KS: Sunday, June 23rd – Taproom Poetry Series – Eighth Street Taproom, 801 New Hampshire St Lawrence, KS 66044, 5:00 pm (w/ Lauren Schimming)

Lincoln, NE: Monday, June 24th – Indigo Bridge Books, 7:00 pm Lincoln NE

Iowa City, IA: Tuesday, June 25th – Strange Cage Reading Series – Fair Grounds Coffeehouse, 345 S. Dubuque Street, Iowa City, Iowa 8 pm

Des Moines, IA: Wednesday, June 26th – Beaverdale Books, 2629 Beaver Ave, Des Moines, IA 50310, 7:00 pm (w/ Russell Jaffe)

Omaha, NE: Thursday, June 27th -- Gallery 72, 1806 Vinton Street, Omaha, NE, 7:30 pm

Kansas City Lawrence Poetry Readings

In Lawrence:
Taproom Poetry Series
Big Tent Reading Series

In Kansas City:
A Common Sense Reading Series

In Topeka, coming back:
Top City Poetry Reading Series
on facebook

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Genres are not just forms. Genres are forms of life, ways of being. They are frames for social action. They are environments for learning. They are locations within which meaning is constructed. Genres shape the thoughts we form and the communications by which we interact. Genres are the familiar places we go to to create intelligible communicative action with each other and the guideposts we use to explore the unfamiliar.


 ~ Charles Bazerman, The Life of Genre, the Life in the Classrooms

Syllabus for a Poetry Class

“I think that an awful lot of American writing since the 1950s was in some ways anti-modernist, and that one of the reasons that poetry is undergoing this small boom is that people are turning to it and finding is surprisingly accessible, despite many years of education by teachers trained by New Critics to think that poetry was the best way to teach children analytic and interpretive skills in school--which could certainly kill off anything, you know? ~ Robert Hass, American Poet.  An interview with Robert Hass on the office of the Poet Laureate, poetry, and its role in American culture  
“Poetry is metamorphosis, change, and alchemical operation, and therefore it borders on magic, religion, and other attempts to transform man and make “this one” and “that one” that “other one” who is he himself...Poetry puts man outside of himself and, simultaneously, makes him return to his original being: returns him to himself...Poetry is entry into being.” - Octavio Paz, The Bow and the Lyre
We will begin our class with a look at what our perceptions of poetry are and how we formed them.  We will discuss the first pleasures of language and then move into a discussion to find a way back into an appreciation of language.  Throughout our time together, we will explore what poetry is and what it can do.  In addition, we will discuss a creative way of thinking and artistic approach.  We will honor the artists inside us and tap in, creating an environment conducive to creativity, intellectual growth, and sharing. 
McKim, Elizabeth, & Steinbergh, Judith. (1999). Beyond Words: Writing Poems with Children, Brookline, MA: Talking Stone Press. (or order directly:
Nye, Naomi Shahib. (Ed.) (1996). This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. New York: Aladdin Paperbacks.
Padgett, Ron. (Ed.) (2000). Handbook of Poetic Forms: Teachers and Writers Collaborative.
Additional readings provided. 
This workshop will have a multiple focus:
* to provide a wide variety of poetry-writing experiences, from a writer's view
* to experience a process from warm-up to raw material to revisions to finished
* to sharpen critical skills through a positive workshop format
* to gain practical ideas for infusing poetry into the classroom 
The emphasis will be on writing poetry and a poetic way of seeing, getting our whole hearts and minds and bodies involved, and exploring the ways we think and feel about poetry.  Then this transformation will be applied to our work in the classroom.
The poetry workshop weekend  is based on the following tenets:
1. We learn to write by reading and writing.
2. Writers benefit by having  readers respond to their work-in-progress, rather than just having readers  evaluate the work when it is finished.  Bring xerox copies of your papers/poems  for your group when asked.
3. A supportive working atmosphere  is crucial if a writing workshop is to succeed.  Your input is valued  and is necessary to the course.
4. We will develop ourselves  as writers of poetry and as teachers of poetry.  
1. Students will read and write a variety of poems and other pieces in and out of class.
2. Students will keep a source  journal of visual and verbal images.
3. Students will participate  in movement poems, poem enactment, and visual poetry.
4. Students will read and respond  to a variety of poems.
5. Students will read children's  poetry and explore approaches to sharing poetry with children.
6. Students will read outside material related to the understanding of poetry.
7. Students will value the  imagination in childhood, and learn how to set up an environment that  encourages expressive writing.
8. Students will demonstrate  the ability to design and implement poetry writing within the classroom.  
The poetry-writing exercises from which we'll draw include:
Letter Poem
Photo Poem
Found Poem
Object Poem
Poem Hike
Exquisite Corpse
Dream Poem
Memory Poem
Newspaper Poem 
We'll explore ways to write poetry from the world around us, from the media, from our thoughts and feelings, and from other poems. Other exercises will be adapted from the textbooks, and shared from our teaching experiences. We'll do exercises individually, in small groups, and as a class. The focus will be on active, engaged writing.
We'll also watch videos of poets, and share and discuss poetry from the textbooks and our individual reading.
Our aim is to saturate ourselves in the reading and writing of poetry, in order to build our skills, awareness and confidence, so that teaching poetry in the classroom is a natural outgrowth.
In-Class Participation. Active and engaged participation in our poetry writing exercises, sharing of readings, and discussion. Please save a written copy of your work for the portfolio. 
Oral Report on Lesson Plan. Due the second weekend. A 10-15 minute presentation of the poetry lesson plan you have done in your classroom, accompanied by a 1-page summary/recipe for everyone. A poetry lesson may stand alone, be infused with movement, drama, music or art, or be integrated with another subject area such as social studies or science. (Remember to tap into the imagination and not just integrate facts.)
To expand everyone's repertoire, avoid familiar exercises (haiku, acrostic, diamente, cinquain), something you've done before like alphabet poems, and exercises we have done together in class.
Instead, choose something new and different: use a new form from "Handbook of Poetic Forms," imitate a poem from "Same Sky," or build on one of the exercises in "Beyond Words" (anything but
pp. 128-130). Please email me if you have questions or get stuck.
It's important that the lesson plan include:
- Page # and title of poem or exercise from our textbooks, on which you based lesson
- A warm-up activity, physical or mental or both
- Gathering of raw material
- Shaping the raw stuff into a first draft
- Revising into a finished form, with some kind of presentation
Make your presentation lively and engaging. You may bring in samples of student work, show materials you used in class, and invite our participation--if we have time, we'll try it ourselves!
FINAL PORTFOLIO. Must be postmarked no later than three weeks from our last class. Mail to my home address. Include a large, self-addressed, stamped envelope for its return; be sure to use stamps and not a meter strip, as it will expire.  Include:
Your Poems. One typed copy of each poem you wrote in class. Revision is encouraged (expectation is 2-3 poems). Include all typed drafts. Staple last, best draft on top, first draft on bottom.
Oral Report Handout. 1-page handout/recipe from your oral report.
Reflection Paper on Lesson. 2-3 page paper that expands on your handout/recipe. It should address your project's successes and ways it could be improved, and should also include your ideas and plans for future uses of poetry in the classroom. You might also tell anecdotes of how individual students struggled and, in some cases, made breakthroughs. You may reflect on this class as well, and your changed (hopefully) attitudes toward poetry.
Book Responses. Two 1-2 page responses to two books of poetry by an adult for adults, written since 1960. No anthologies. Avoid Hallmark-like inspirational verse, or books by songwriters (like Jewel). Check out your local libraries and bookstores. Include personal reactions, favorite poems and lines, how it expands your ideas of what poetry can do, how it makes you think and feel. Please check with me if you have any questions.  Explore:
- Why you chose the book and how it appeals to you
- Favorite poems and lines
- Observations on the subject matter (family or nature for example)
- Thoughts on the poetic style (how the poems look on the page, sound 
Weekend One - Getting into Poetry
We'll focus on experiencing and responding to poems through reading, listening, and watching videos. We'll begin to write poems, moving from raw material in exercises to more finished work, and start to explore how they can be presented in different formats, perhaps including choral and dramatic. 
Weekend Two - Poetry in the Classroom
We'll continue writing and discussing poetry, but the emphasis will shift to applying what we've learned to the classroom. Oral reports on lesson plans will be presented to the group, and we'll talk about translating our ideas to many grade levels. We'll conclude with a coffee house-like group poetry
reading--ideally at a student's house. Note: bring books of poems to share, and any classroom
resources--great books, visuals, etc. 
For Poetry Writing and Expressive Writing: 
Goldberg, Natalie (199O). Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life. NY: Bantam (see her other book as well, Writing Down the Bones (These books introduce you to writing, but do not go into poetic techniques). 
Oliver, Mary. A Poetry Handbook.
Twitchell, Chase. The Practice of Poetry.
For Teaching Poetry Writing in the Classroom: 
Collom, Jack (1985). Moving Windows: Evaluating the Poetry Children Write. NY: Teachers & Writers Collaborative. (Elementary and up.) 
Dunning, Stephen, et. al. (1966). Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle...and other Modern Verse. NYL: Scholastic. (A solid anthology of modern and contemporary poetry ; elementary and up.) 
Edgar, Christopher, and Ron Padgett, eds. (1994). Educating The Imagination: Essays & Ideas for Teachers & Writers. 2 volumes. NY: Teachers & Writers Collaborative. 5 Union Square West. NY NY 10003-3306. ANY BOOK PUBLISHED BY TEACHERS & WRITERS COLLABORATIVE IS FINE. 
Marzan, Julio, ed. (1997). Luna, Luna: Creative Writing Ideas from Spanish, Latin American & Latino Literature. NY: Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 1997. (Middle school and up.) 
Flynn, Nick and Shirley McPhillips (2000). A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching from Poems We Love. ME: Stenhouse. 
Kennedy, X. J. and Kennedy, Dorothy M.(1982). Knock at a Star: A Child's Introduction to Poetry. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. (Elementary; 3rd-middle school.) See new edition. 
Frank, Marjorie (1979). If You're Trying to Teach Kids to Write, You've Got Have This Book!. Nashville; Incentive Publications. (Eelementary, a pot pourri of ideas.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home/Birth: a poemic by Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker lesson plan


At least seven interchanges back and forth via email with a partner around a socio-political theme. Feel free to use documents: personal and/or historical photos, news articles, transcripts, interviews, etc. Each collaborators own words should appear somewhere in the work.

Hand in both a printout of the email exchange, as well as the revised work (first to last), in your final portfolio.

Based on Home / Birth.


Home/Birth discussion Creative Writing: Contemporary Forms


Parataxis (from Greek for 'act of placing side by side'; from para, beside + tassein, to arrange; contrasted to syntaxis) is a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, with the use of coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions.

The term parataxis has also been appropriated by some cultural theorists to describe certain works of art or "cultural texts" in which a series of scenes or elements are presented side by side in no particular order or hierarchy.

Uses in the book:

  • personal narratives
  • voices of home birth providers (midwives, doulas, supporters),
  • statistics
  • other sources: books, bumper stickers, mouse pads, etc.

Assignment: get together with someone and examine a page

Examine: interconnectedness of association and parataxis. How is the page effective?


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hybridity and Collaboration: Contemporary Forms, part 1, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

After attending back-to-back panels at AWP 2012, one on feminist writing, the second on political writing, both panels came to the same conclusion: contemporary forms of feminist and/or political writing uses hybridity and collaboration. This breakthrough realization led to my Contemporary Forms class--an upper-level and graduate class.

The first book we looked at was Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine. Here are the lesson plans and assignment:

Project One: Hybrid form, the personal meets the multi-political (memoir-political), documentation

Requirement: At least five pages connected by a theme.

Based on Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

Alternative projects: Psychogeography

Based on Jena Osman’s Walking Mapping Tracking Writing: An Experiment in Psychogeography:

Our starting point will be the Situationist “dérive,” or drift, which requires breaking usual habits of moving through a place. We’ll read related works and then take a series of walks (alone and together, actual and imagined) in order to explore local terrains. Prompts for these walks will be constructed collaboratively; we’ll use the information gathered to create maps that will lead us to writing. Bring whatever portable recording devices you have on hand (cameras, smartphones, notebooks) to help us document our drifts.

Another, based on Kaia Sand’s Remember to Wave, will consider all of the options involved with a work that combines place with all of the layered contexts carried personally and historically.

On a note about memoir: When writing out of personal experiences, we should be careful when writing about trauma—as to not re-traumatize ourselves.

With that said, I will appreciate any bravery out of our class--of sharing about such things. I know my personal writing has helped me.

From Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: "Writing can help you find greater wholeness, healing and strength. It can turbo-charge your resiliency -- your ability to endure and thrive. It can also help you sort out what really happened, not so much factually but emotionally, psychically, spiritually or other ways that shape and infuse who you are. Writing can give you back more of who you are, and give you a vehicle for your story so that you can contribute to growing the world's compassion and wisdom."


Day 3



Brainstorm ideas for their own writing

Learn more about the current trends and topics

Examine the assigned readings in classroom discussion for further understanding


Announce reading series:

Brainstorm ideas:

What ideas and subjects do you have in mind? Freewrite.

Looking at the first two first-day questions, what can you add?

What things do you enjoy in life? What things inspire you?

What other “personal causes” do you have? Social causes?

Show a collection of poetry books and discuss themes. If any themes spark something, write those down.

If you wrote about an experience that changed your life, what would it be? [Only a couple of sentences, if you want, are needed.]

Three more experiences?

What do you like in pop culture? Despise?

This last question:

Amy King: “Speech requires means and distribution to be heard, and poetry is one of the most dangerous forms of speech as, ultimately, poets are not beholden to the status quo.  Poets who do the difficult work of language do not simply reflect the culture, but seek to change it.  (Poetry has always spearheaded change from a peripheral position.) “

Although this class is certainly about hybridity, a lot of the hybridity is still grounded in the experimental poetry movements.


Another notion being challenged is around non-fiction:

John D’Agata
The James Frey story


Reality Hunger is theory

DLMBL is practice

describe pacing, repetition (anaphora), etc. setting up theme

describe the semester as a whole

desc alternate idea for writing project 1





Amy King:

"Popular culture cameos regularly in my work as I'm no true adherent to the use of high and low culture as a means for distinguishing myself on the status quo scale. I'll die soon enough regardless of how you place me, whatever class you believe in. People speak through pop culture, whether it be about a philosophical issue or as a conveyance of intimacy. As a poet, I'm invested in exploring various means and methods of communication. As a person, I use pop cultural references regularly and try to be as attuned as possible to what and how those references function, regardless of how fleeting the specific references are. I am porously of and above my culture; I try to be limitless through that, even with cultural references."


“Speech requires means and distribution to be heard, and poetry is one of the most dangerous forms of speech as, ultimately, poets are not beholden to the status quo.  Poets who do the difficult work of language do not simply reflect the culture, but seek to change it.  (Poetry has always spearheaded change from a peripheral position.) “



Describe setups, overarching themes (death, suicide, Black America, media)

If time: In-class writing

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gary Jackson poetry lesson plan, with diversity

As of last semester, I switched my Freshman Composition course to be with a diversity emphasis via pop culture. I have found that by including popular culture, it accomplishes several things:

· Students ready for college-level writing are excited to write about topics they enjoy
· Students not ready for college-level writing have a
point-of-entry into writing, via their ideas about topics they know about
· International students new to America catch a better sense of American pop culture, as well as what fellow students are interested in
· All students and I learn how diverse the classroom is, the diversity both seen and unseen
As I include a poetry section, Gary Jackson's Missing You, Metropolis is a good match--including a Topeka poet in a Topeka classroom.

Here is the assignment:

EN101 Freshman Composition
Writing Project #1 (Poetry) Assignment Sheet


Poetry in Freshman Composition?

You might ask, “What does poetry have to do with Freshman Composition?”  A lot!  In poetry, there is a detailed attention to words, the use of punctuation, lines, and concrete imagery.  Poetry also helps to accomplish the three goals for students in Freshman Composition:

·         Students will deepen the connection between their thinking and their writing.

·         Students will learn to develop their ideas through details, reasoning, and explanations.

·         Students will learn to edit their writing for the correct use of standard written English.

For this writing project, our class will develop both creativity and revision strategy and skills that are important tools for writing; we will do this by using a shorter form of writing—poetry.


Responding to Poetry

Read Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson.  In addition, select two poems you were intrigued with during your reading and write responses to them. Each response should answer these questions:

  • What is the title of the poem?
  • What is the poem generally about in both explicit and implicit terms? 
  • What are your favorite passages and/or uses of language and why?
  • How can we, as poets, borrow from the rhetorical strategy of the poem?

Be inspired by Mr. Jackson for one of the poems you will write.

Poetry Writing

Write three or more poems (which we will have time to do in class). 

Your poem analysis and finished poems will be turned in as a poetry portfolio, along with your inventive work.

Any other requirements will be discussed in class.

Really, I allow the student responses to serve as starting points to writing poems. I also share the interview:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Joseph Harrington

I'm thinking of Joe at the Millay Colony now, working on the fourth installment of his Mother Sequence, and thought of the interview from a while back.  Looking forward to seeing these in the future--truly an amazing poet, both in lyrical and conceptual works.

Plus, he is a true StL Cardinals fan!

When he visited Washburn, I used his book Things Come On in my Freshman Composition course. (I always include a poetry section in my comp courses.) I recommend it, for any of the three types of classes: lit, creative writing, and composition. My students "did not understand it" at first, but by referring to the Notes section, and discussing the role of parataxis and juxtaposition, they loved it--and loved his reading with the chance to meet him.


My writing assignment:


When the Personal Meets the Socio-Political

We will read Things Come On by Joseph Harrington and explore his collage technique in writing—combining memoir, history, image, and so on.


Read through Things Come On, and write three responses from different sections of the book.

Brainstorm your own personal, life-changing event—something you would want to write a poem about.

Brainstorm what kind of research would be relevant to include—and collect the research, leading to whatever interests you.

Collage away! Use Joseph Harrington’s strategies for your own work.

Page requirement: At least five pages.



Please respond to three different passages/pages out of different sections.

Each reading response should consist of:

1. the statement or idea that you are responding to placed in its proper context--this may mean providing background information about the poem/story itself (include page number);

2. your reaction to the statement or idea;

3. a connection between what you have read and experienced in your own life


My teaching notes:


How the words are placed. Prose takes a different form than poetry, usually—paragraphs versus stanzas. With Things Come On, lists, images, and such truly use a different form to make a collage.


Basically, when we think of context, we are talking about what words "mean" in regards to the why, where, and how they are used with the other words/images around them. Instead of the denotation--what a line says in itself--the context would compare that line to the lines before and after, if not the work as a whole. A lot of Things Come On has to do with Joseph Harrington’s mother's cancer and her passing away, Watergate, documentation, and the struggle to remember, which sets up the context for the words and images.


Read through the notes in the back for each page. That way, you can see how Joe H. borrows from different texts and sources to "blend in" with his voice.

Also, look for the effect of form—like on page 22. This is a Q&A that refers to himself in the third person. How cool is that?


I found this amazing video on collage! The writer does it with using advertisements--more of a word-by-word method--rather than using research and documents.

Remember the use of notes in the back of Joe's book to "figure out" how Joe is interweaving the historical and social event with his personal event.

The conversation on page 36 is an amazing collage/blending, as Joseph's speech (Mr. Harrington from KS), his father's words (Mr. Harrington from TN), and the Watergate hearings are woven together.

Again, start with an event as a point for your own writing and research:

  • Research the years: what happened in the news, what songs were popular, films, and include the things that would be important to you
  • Research the theme: can you find something relevant to the theme--even published in that year you research before?
  • Are there photographs you can scan form that time? Are there public photographs you can use from the internet?
There is no need to cite anything. However, include a "notes" page (not included as a page for the requirement) for your references. Also, Joseph Harrington uses quotation marks for direct quotes in his work. You need not, though.

Finally, here is my own collage work as an example. I received permissions to publish these, but, as a student, you do not need any permission, as long as you cite your work. In this creative writing example, you need not cite, either--just include the sources in your notes, please!


The true payoff was the students' work:

Your writing project is amazing, as you collage your wrestling achievements alongside your father-figure friend’s battle with Leukemia. . . .

Thank you for writing with courage and honesty over your mother’s death. The overall theme of how pointless high school is with these tragedies going on works in your piece. . . .

Thank you for writing about your tragic experiences in the war—as well as the bad politics involved in it. Your writing project is amazing, as you portray what serving in Iraq was like. The collage between photos and descriptions of each of the friends you lost alongside your poetry was powerful. Also, the quotes about going into Iraq, the quote about having a plan to kill each Iraqi just in case, the photos, and the use of censorship was well done! Truly, I hope you continue working on this as a project—as a possible book.