Yeah, Write.

"That's not writing; that's just typing." –Truman Capote


Hey poets,

First of all, your poems today were awesome! I know we still have to hear the others–we’ll do that on Monday. Next week we’re going to take a stroll through literary romanticism. To prepare for it, please click through this prezi and take notes on the content using the sheet I gave you in class. Expect this content to show up on a quiz, so pay attention to it!

Romanticism Prezi

Remember, the other part is to bring in a contemporary example of one of the ideas of romanticism. This example could be a song, a poem, a work of art, a film, an object–whatever, you decide.

Also, go to the poetry slam on Saturday. It will be rad.

Happy weekend.


So, school has been cancelled tomorrow because it’s going to be colder than the 9th circle of hell. (Quick: somebody explain that allusion!) Which means you can sleep in and relax, but it also means a sort of weird, anti-climactic closing to our semester. Update: See you Monday. Treat the following as your final weekend blog post. Newer update: See you Tuesday because Monday is no-school-due-to-polar-vortex-day #4. A couple of you have your index poems up–yay!

What we were going to do in class was compose index poems that function as entertaining summaries of the course experience. Here’s a tiny sample of how an index poem might look. This is an excerpt from an index poem written by a poet/acquaintance/colleague of mine named Amorak Huey.


Airbrush tattoos 135
Anna 121, 124, 139, 140-157, 160
       College boyfriend of 122
………Conversation on the drive down about 120-124
………Dumping-boyfriend rumors 125
………Eric and 158-160
………Optimism and 126-157
Arcade 129
Arrogance 122, 125, 146
………Making fun of everyone who is not we 122, 129, 133, 141
………Nicknames, occasionally cruel 123, 139
………Visibility of, in hindsight 159
Autonomous self, the 120, 140, 145
………Unrealized expectations for 159
Bartles & James 124, 126-132
………purchase of (see also Keith from first period; see also fake ID) 124
………taste of (see also Kool-Aid) 129
Beach 121, 133, 144, 147
Best week ever, anticipation of 120, 122

Notice a couple things about the set-up: alphabetical A-Z (again, I just gave you a snippet), imaginary page numbers are included, the (see also) element to indicate other cross-references, and the blend of obvious and literal with quirky, inside-jokes and humor and the word or phrase building into a line or full sentence by indentation of the following line. It’s a lot of fun to write these, actually. Think about all of your silly inside jokes about Bitzer and Orwell and how crazy your teacher is and have some fun with it. I challenge you to write one as your final blog send-off.

Stay warm!

Your Assignment: BLA

For this weekend’s blog post, please offer a brief analysis and response to the argument your BLA selection presented. I would encourage you to find additional information/sources/perspectives on the topic discussed by your author(s) simply because it would be an interesting way to inform your response. There is no requirement to do so, I just think it would be good mental exercise.

At this point, you are pros when it comes to identifying and analyzing argument (right?) and you’ve pretty much always been pros at responding to stuff — you know, what do you think about x, y, z? stuff.  So this task should be straightforward for you.

A word about grades and the end of term cookiness of it all: As your grades are presently, they do not include: a) the most substantial piece of writing you’ve done this semester, b) the most substantial project you’ve done this semester, and c) a final exam that will be similar in substance and grade-impact potential as the term 1 final was. This means you can and should expect that your grade will most likely change. And if/when it does, and you think ugh, my grade went down-ah, that’s so unfair-ah, you must simply re-evaluate your logic: Your grade did not go down. Rather, your grade was incomplete before the input of this data. Now, it reflects your performance on these culminating, summative assessments.

I heart you all, and I’m pulling for you, but I simply will not tolerate whiny, last-minute grade-grubbing. I’ve been upfront with you about my expectations all semester. This is where that counts. If you are dissatisfied with your work on something, I sympathize. These things happen. We learn from it and we carry on. You are allowed to have a moment of tantrum, just please keep it to a minimum.

She’s mostly just sad about her haircut. I know, honey, I know.


I am always surprised by how quickly the days escape us. It seems like just yesterday I was introducing you to Friday Freewrites and now you are about to graduate from the land of AP Lang. Crazy. 

In these final eight days, you will be presenting your author study work, wrapping up your term BLA, nervously awaiting your essay grade, nervously wondering what kinds of mischief the final exam will entail, and all kinds of other mentally-taxing, and emotionally-draining experiences. And then it will be over and you will move on to other, less important classes. 

Today, we looked at these four prompts at the end of class. I asked you to jot down a few ideas about how you might respond to one of them and now, I’m asking to to go a little further. For your blog post this weekend, please respond to one of the prompts from class however you’d like to. If you want to use this as an opportunity to construct a solid exam-worthy response, go for it, but if you’d like to be a bit more casual or creative or interpretive in your response, that’s a-ok, too. 

The prompts:

1. Read and think carefully about the following quotation from Voltaire: “It is dangerous to be right in matters about which the established authorities are wrong.” Then write an essay in which you refute, support, or qualify Voltaire’s claim. Make sure to use appropriate evidence from literary, historical, or personal sources to develop your argument.
2. From talk radio to television shows, from popular magazines to Web blogs, ordinary citizens, political figures, and entertainers express their opinions on a wide range of topics. Are these opinions worthwhile? Does the expression of such opinions foster democratic values? Then write an essay in which you take a position on the value of such public statements of opinion, supporting your view with appropriate evidence.
3. Socrates is known to have said first said what is know known as the philosopher’s credo: “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Is he right? Use appropriate evidence from literature, history, or your own personal experience to support your claim.
4. In “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” an article that appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics, calls attention to the urgent need for food and medicine in many parts of the world. Singer argues that prosperous people should donate to overseas aid organizations such as UNICEF or Oxfam America all money not needed for the basic requirements of life. “The formula is simple: whatever money you’re spending on luxuries, not necessities, should be given away.” Write an essay in which you evaluate the pros and cons of Singer’s argument. Use appropriate evidence as you examine each side, and indicate which position you find more persuasive.

Happy Blogging.

See You Next Year


So, the rhetoric of New Year’s is sort of interesting… all of this talk of “new year, new you!” and an insistence that the next year will be infinitely better than this past year was, fresh starts and do-overs abound, and there’s a strange belief that at the stoke of midnight, something magical happens: there’s a countdown, a sparkly ball, champagne sparkling apple juice, and cheers and smiles and kisses. But why? What is it about this holiday (why is this a holiday?) that makes us want to celebrate? And why do we celebrate it this way?


Post at least once over break. You can write about anything you want, but maybe consider commenting on this New Year’s phenomenon I was just rambling about…I’m interested to know what you think of it. Do you participate in the practice of resolutions? The countdown? Nothing? Are you surly about it? Okay, you get the idea.

The paper. Draft, brainstorm, develop, revise. Read the assignment sheet. Thursday and Friday after break will be work days so make sure you have stuff to work on. Those days will be more useful to you for the essay if you have a full (though rough) draft going into it.

The project. Read and annotate like a beast. Very few of you had the quantity and quality of notes I had expected to see at this point. That’s not a jab; it’s an expression of genuine concern. Read the assignment sheet. Really get to know your author’s style. Refer to that “incredibly tedious guide” I gave you a while back. Remember the in-class work we’ve done with identifying style and writing style statements. You have everything you need to do well on this, but you’ve got to make use of those resources and pay attention to the assignment’s objectives, articulated on the assignment sheet.

Get some rest. Play in the snow. Drink hot cocoa. Eat cookies. See you in January.

Not Gonna Lie

Try to be 100% truthful this weekend. Just see how it goes. At the very least, take notice of how many times you bend, smother, or evade the truth…and consider why you do that. Write about it if you want to, but otherwise your blog post topic is open. You haven’t had one of those in a while.

For Monday, please read the essay “A Clack of Tiny Sparks” by Bernard Cooper (it’s on our Moodle page). CRJ it if you’d like. At some point next week (not Monday) I will collect a CRJ from you. Consider yourself warned. Pay specific attention to how he shapes the narrative and uses it to say something.

GET GOING ON YOUR AUTHOR STUDY. Before you leave for winter break, you must show me that you are making progress. I will ask to see your notes/annotations/CRJ type stuff probably on Thursday. I might publicly shame you if you have nothing.

Happy weekend.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Porridge

Among hundreds of frozen trees
the only cottage
was the cottage of the three bears.

I was of three minds
Like a table
at which there are three chairs.

The porridge steamed the chilly air
it was a small part of my ritual.

A girl and her porridge
Are one.
A girl and three bears and porridge
Are one.

Okay, that’s enough fun. This weekend, blog about whatever you want, but approach it in a few different ways. What do I mean? “Fifteen Comments on Cookie-Baking” or “Six Ways of Looking at Sledding” or Twenty Observations on Sleep” or something like that. The goal is to toy with structure and perspective. Change up the usual–what are some other angles to explore? What are the different components of something you do all the time? If you have a low number, those chunks should be a tad longish. If you have a high number, those chunks can be little.

Remember to read and CRJ Eric Liu’s essay “Notes of a Native Speaker” for Monday. It’s on our Moodle page and I’ll try to get it up on my website, too, but it’s been giving me fits.

BLA on Tuesday and get started with your author study. Holler if you decide to 86 your author and replace him or her with a new one.

Happy weekend.

The Author Study

As an extended study of style, you will be reading an author of your choice extensively. This work will span the rest of the term and will result in a presentation of sorts in January. This is all I will tell you about the project at this time. For now, your task is to find an author whose work you wish to study in-depth. This author must be established/published, but can work in any genre. Here are some suggestions (you may propose another author to study but I get to say no for any number of reasons):


Sign-up is first ask, first get on Friday in class. Have a few options.
If you “don’t get” poetry, don’t pick a poet. And then sign up for poetry class because, seriously. 
Then secure copies of this author’s work for to read and study

This is a good resource, by the way: The Electric Typewriter

Turkeys, Menorahs, Shopping!

First of all, whatever you plan to do for the next several days, I hope you enjoy the break and take some time to relax.

What I’d like you to blog about is the curious obsession we humans have with tradition. You can explore this in any way you’d like to–maybe your family has all kinds of traditions, maybe they don’t, but you don’t have to write about yourself and your traditions. One needs only to flick on the tele to see evidence of culturally ingrained traditions…what do you think about this? Why do we create and maintain traditions? What do we gain from them? Do you think having traditions is healthy and positive or bizarre and twisted? These are not questions you have to answer, I’m just trying to get the ball rolling because what I’m not asking for is a play-by-play of your Turkey-day festivities. Think more broadly about tradition than that. Comment on it.

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