October 17, 2010

Okay, people, let’s get organized.

Those who have currently signed up to read are as follows: Everett, Meg, Debbi, Alyssa, Erin, Kristin, Christine, and Helen.

Matt, are you reading, or are you working on music and/or an art slideshow?  Anyone else want to come on board?

Kristin’s suggestion, since we apparently gave the title “Why Poetry Matters,” was to read poems from our copo poets that address that issue or that concern art in a metapoetic way.  I like this idea, and, as Kristin or someone said, if we announce that at the beginning, then our audience can listen for/interpret that commentary as we go.

A few suggestions off the top of my head:

Pineda, “My Sister, Who Died Young, Takes Up the Task”

Brooks, “What shall I give my children? who are poor”

selections from Ginsberg, e.g. end of Part I of “Howl”

Walcott, “Sea Grapes” and Omeros Chapter LXIV.I (239)

Clifton, “telling our stories,” “libation,” “why some people be mad at me sometimes,” “my dream about the poet”

Bishop, “The Monument,” “One Art”

Plath, “Two Views of a Cadaver Room,” “The Arrival of the Bee Box,” “Kindness”

What else??

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formal paper assessment

October 6, 2010

… is now posted on the Formal Paper page so you can see what my feedback rubric will look like.

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Ask Dr. Scansion

September 6, 2010

Q:  Dear Dr. Scansion,

I am new to formal analysis of poetry and am anxiously wondering: what terms do I really need to know? Can you help me navigate this new period in my education?



A: Dear “Sylvia,”

The terms of formal analysis and prosody are numerous, and some people may be comfortable taking on a more complex set, but for the most part you should have a vocabulary that includes the following:

1) basic accentual patterns: iamb, trochee, spondee, pyrrhic, anapest, and dactyl (Note: some people think that the pyrrhic doesn’t exist in English.  You will need to resist peer pressure and decide what seems true to you.  For my part, I believe.)

2) common metrical feet: trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, hexameter

3) common stanza names: couplet, triplet, quatrain, sestet, octave

4) useful ways to characterize sound patterns: rhyme, half- or slant-rhyme, assonance, consonance, dissonance, alliteration

5) terms that describe line/sentence formations: end-stopped, caesura, enjambment

You may want to be comfortable with a handful of other terms, for example:  sonnet, sestina, blank verse, free verse.

Sylvia, there are resources for people like you.  This site has a wealth of information about prosody and form, or you can turn to sites like the glossary on  for better for verse, which is less exhaustive but has clear definitions.  In either case, don’t forget that reliable friends and grown-ups you trust can be helpful in working through these tough times.  Eventually you may even come to see formal and prosodic analysis as an important part of how you think.

All best wishes,

Dr. Scansion

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