Thursday, 29 November 2012

Cognitive Dissonance: The non-existent war on Xmas.... ;-)

Cognitive Dissonance: The non-existent war on Xmas.... ;-)

Was linked to this blog earlier today and thought I'd share it. 

Between Walls - PoemTalk, ModPo and Poetry

In addition to going through the suggested further readings of Coursera's Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course (ModPo), I'm also slowly going through the nearly 60 (to date) episodes of PoemTalk which is hosted by ModPo's professor, Al Filreis.

In Episode 1 they talk about a poem that we covered in week 3 of the course, "Between Walls" by William Carlos Williams. This poem is considered to be an imagist poem or a poem which causes you to see, in your imagination, the exact object which the poem is about. I highly recommend that you go to the episode page and listen to the podcast as it really adds insight to the poem.

In "Between Walls", WCW mentions "...cinders/ in which shine/ the broken/ pieces of a green/ bottle". Cinders are soft ashes with bits of charcoal in them. Sometimes, if they are fresh, the pieces of coal will still be warm or even still be slightly glowing. Whereas the pieces of glass would normally be cold, sharp, and brittle. If you put them together, you get pieces of glass, warmed by the cinders and reflecting the glow of the embers which would probably give the glass the appearance of glowing on it's own from a distance. To me, this is an image of beauty found in what is usually considered litter and ugliness. This poem reminds us that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places.

"It seems that he tries to find beauty in unexpected places. Art tries to become new. Poets try to search for new ways of expression. Even the poem seems to be fragmented, broken like the glass..." - Irina-Ana 
"A thought that struck me when rereading the poem after the video discussion was that everything in the back wings of that hospital is dead/black/gray/broken. The very detail that adds some color (the color of hope!) into that environment is produced by something that itself is completely broken (broken glass)." - Stefaan

Also, I see the shards of glass as a form of flower. Is the glass alive? No, but the way the shards are arranged and with the light shining upon it, making it sparkle and shine with the hope of new life is a form of life itself!

""Shine" is really positive in this poem. Fragments can be alive!" - Al
"I, too, see the green fragments as something positive, as if from something broken new life can arise and grow. Someone experiences a shattering effect, yet they can pick up their pieces, redefine (reassemble) themselves, and go forward with a renewed sense of hope and purpose. The light shining on the pieces is much like sunlight, warming, invigorating, hopeful, and encouraging. When you feel warmth within you, you grow, just like a buried seed feels the sun's warmth and extends its roots and grows. The fact that Williams locates this "action" in a place where nothing grows enhances the hopefulness in the poem's message, saying that while it may seem improbable, it is not impossible. Life can prevail." - Janet

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Poetry Close-Reading: Emily Dickinson

The first further reading suggestion for ModPo is Emily Dickinson's I Taste A Liqueur Never Brewed. This poem was also part of our first essay assignment. Below is the poem followed by my essay and some of the peer reviews and comments I received.  I include them because I appreciate the feedback and don't want to lose the comments when the forums are eventually taken down.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Last 10 Weeks

Now that my Modern Poetry course via Coursera has finished I have time to come back here.

Hello everyone! Sorry for my long absence. As I said above, for the last 10 weeks I have been taking a Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course (a.k.a. ModPo) on Coursera - an online education platform. 

The course was taught by Al Filreis, a professor at Penn University in Pennsylvania, USA. We covered poets from Emily Dickinson to Tracie Morris. Overall, I really enjoyed the course and have learned a lot from it such as how to close-read poetry and that there really are no "final" answers because they always lead to more questions. I will definitely be taking "--THIS" with me in my future endeavours.

Even though the course has finished, poetry hasn't; and neither has the class forums! They will be available to those who have enrolled (all 35,000 of them!) until September 2013. During the next 10 months, some of us will be close-reading poems found on Poem Talk, starting with episode 1. In addition to this, I intend to go through the further reading links in the course and close-read those poems. I will be putting those close readings here in my blog.

Apologies to those of you who don't particularly like poetry, but maybe if you give it a chance you will find, through reading my blog posts, that it isn't that bad after all!