I wanted to think through some issues related to sequencing and framing audio texts so they don’t instantly pin down the author or become a passive illustration of what students have already read. I posted some commentary and links on how I’m planning on incorporating audio files in teaching Grace Paley’s Collected Stories in my Spring 2010 Americal Survey Lit III course at University of Denver. –Eric Baus
With an increasing push to combine 21st century technologies with teaching and learning practices in all disciplines, poetry as a field should start to create collaborative spaces online for its university students. Online networks, like Facebook, give groups with similar interests a meeting place to share ideas, resources, and the ability to form new partnerships. Similar technologies could easily be taken up to shape poetry communities in classrooms and creative writing departments. In my part of the panel, I explore the possibility of building a large poetry network for university students to collaborate in their poetry classes and beyond, called the Online Poetry Consortium.
[T]he Internet has the potential to benefit society as a whole, and facilitate the membership and participation of individuals within society. We contend that digital citizenship encourages what has elsewhere been called social inclusion
Digital citizenship: the internet, society, and participation by Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, Ramona S. McNeal
Both poetry and pedagogy need to enter into conversation with a world larger than any single claim to a “we” or an “us”— to proceed by means of principles of curiosity and the pursuit of connections larger than one’s immediate experience of one’s associative logics
Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary eds. Joan Retallack and Juliana Spahr
Drawing on pedagogical models from Spahr, Retallack, Filreis and Bernstein, my talk will describe and analyze my use of twitter in the poetry classroom to model a reading (and writing) practice that is participatory and collective, where immediacy, simultaneity and nonlinearity are possible as students “tap into something that’s much larger than themselves: the world of available language” and social networking can be a metaphor for writing.
Bernstein, Charles. ‘Wreading, Writing, Wresponding’” Teaching Modernist Poetry, eds. Peter Middleton and Nicky Marsh. London: Palgrave, 2010
Filreis, Al.“Modernist Pedagogy at the End of the Lecture: IT and the Poetics Classroom” Teaching Modernist Poetry, eds. Peter Middleton and Nicky Marsh. London: Palgrave, 2010
Lefevre, Karen. Invention as a Social Act. Carbondale: SUI Press, 1987.
Retallack, Joan, and Juliana Spahr, eds. Poetry and Pedagogy: The Challenge of the Contemporary. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006.
Retallack, Joan. The Poethical Wager. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
Spahr, Juliana. “Poetics Statement” in American Poets in the 21st Century. Ed. Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell. Middletown: Wesleyan, 2007.
Spahr, Juliana, Everybody’s Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.
The aesthetic impulses of poetics are not limited to the practice of poetry. One pedagogical goal I have in teaching poetry is to relate the aesthetic experience of a poem to other arts & rhetorics. The love of poetry is a lived experience that extends beyond the texts—it is a modeling & enacting of engagement practices. Also, we do not teach the basic functions of prosody & craft as rules but as practices, open to reinvention & new relations. Therefore I think one way of understanding poetry is through connection to daily experiences. The networked poetry classroom allows for a relational aesthetics, connecting prosodic practices to net-based practices such as links, chat, multiple-author docs &, perhaps most importantly, the repeated watching of videos of otters holding hands while swimming.
I’m going to present a loose lesson plan for introductory classes of creative writing & poetry lit courses that relates thinking about links to thinking about metaphor & the creation of meaning in poetry.
1. I begin by presenting the class a simple text with a link. I choose it from a well-read site, rather than anything too academic or focused on the art-world. Something like this story on fishing in the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/us/31fish.html?hp.
We discuss the ways that the links in the story work: as informative background, as evidence, to identify groups. We further discuss how the links affect attention & thinking about the overall topic of the story.
I ask them to brainstorm kinds of links that would be inappropriate to the rhetoric of a newspaper article & what is so wrong about these links. They do some quick searches & then a few of them display the links that they would bring into the article to make it function more like what they would expect out of a poem.
Then we discuss how a link is made. I quickly go through the html code of a link, in case they do not know it. We discuss the decisions that go into putting a link into a story.
2. Transitioning, I show them this page from Danielle Pafunda’s blog, with a few of her “Dear Diarama” poems: http://daniellepafunda.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_archive.html
We look at the links as a tags, which have an obvious connection to the word it is linking from. Then we look at the actual image in the link & discuss the distance from the original linking word but also the way that these evocations create multiple layers of meaning in these brief poems.
I have them write a poem based on Pafunda’s process & post them to a class discussion board. (After class I ask them all to comment on how each others’ poems affect them.)
3. The next step is to return to a more traditional poem & discuss how the discussion of the linking process teaches us something about metaphor & the layering of meanings. Obviously, one could use nearly any poem here, but one I like to use is “Aspen” by Greta Wrolstad: http://www.octopusmagazine.com/issue10/wrolstad.htm#d
It is rich in metaphor at numerous levels of thinking &, in my opinion quite beautiful. (Wrolstad is a poet and artist who passed away in 2005.)
I return to our discussion of the actual coding process of making a link & discuss the making of metaphor in a poem at the craft level as well as the conceptual.
(Link to MP3 recording of this talk) .
I’ll be talking about some of the possibilities and pitfalls of using audio files in the classroom. Now that several huge archives of literary recordings are freely available on the internet, the question becomes, how best to make use of this material in the classroom? I’m drawing on my own trial and error process, in addition to some issues raised in a 2007 podcast conversation between UPenn Professor/Pennsound audio archive co-founder Al Filreis and University of Maine Professor Steve Evans.
In the podcast, Evans discusses the instinctive way in which audio files tend to be taught: “Illustratively.” Al Filreis comments that “In this model, (this misunderstanding) printed text is a neutral, more grounded, closer to actuality thing, that the recording can add to detract from–there is a plus or minus effect.”
Using audio files _only_ to stand in/introduce print versions of the poem limits their pedagogical possibilities. If students read a printed text of a poem first, then listen to only one recorded version of that poem, the printed text tends to become primary and the audio file becomes more difficult to fully experience, often closing off the possibilities for considering the rich layers of information contained in the audio. Also, that one particular voicing of the poem risks becomes instantly definitive.
The conversation often becomes evaluative rather than exploratory (“How well did the voice match up to the voice readers imagined?”). Although this use of audio files is not inherently bad, it can divert discussion away from a more complex consideration of the ways sound and social context create meaning in these documents. I have found it helpful to begin my use of recordings each semester with texts that suggest a nexus between print and audio. David Antin‘s site-specific improvisatory talk poems, Cecilia Vicuna‘s multilingual performances, and Hannah Weiner‘s collective, polyvocal texts are ripe for conversation because they suggest a reciprocity between reading and listening, between live performance and recorded playback.
Using Multiple Versions of the same poem by the same poet.
By examining various audio versions of the same poem, listeners can gain a sense of the multiple ways in which texts create meaning beyond the static score of the page. One example that springs to mind is Bernadette Mayer reading her translation of Catullus #48 in 3 different contexts: one in the studio recording in the mid-90’s (preceded by a deep, echoe-y male voice reading the poem in Latin), one at Naropa in 1987 (accompanied by Mayer’s comments on the poem), and one in England in 1989 (read in an environment of lively audience feedback). There are significant differences in tone, pace, intonation, ambient sound environment, and level of audience response in each of the recordings. The poem is less than 1 minute long, so it would be practical to begin a class that would incorporate sound recordings with a discussion of this particular poem, especially in light of the idea of Mayer’s translation as a versioning itself. Multiple versions can help students to move past the idea of stable, monolithic, timeless texts and into a more complex understanding of literary production and reception.
Another strategy I have used in creative writing classes has been to play two or more audio recordings by authors who write in different aesthetic modes and who read their poems in radically different ways. By creating a dialogue between two audio texts, various issues of the social location of authors in terms of gender, region, time period, and other markers inscribed in sound can come into play. I have paired Yeats reading “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” with Bernadette Mayer reading “Sonnet (You Jerk You Didn’t Call Me Up)”. I found that playing these recordings next to one another provoked a lively discussion of diction, tone. Obviously, the contrast between these two poets and poems is fairly stark, but we also look at any unexpected similarities between the poems. We talk about the ways these two recordings bring one another into relief. The idea is not to come out with an aesthetic winner, but to talk about both content and context in a more organic, experiential way than listing and defining terms on the board. I like this kind of discussion because students build an understanding of terms and techniques out of their own concrete perceptual experiences.
Ambient Listening +Repeated Listening
As someone who has listened to a lot of audio recordings of contemporary writers, I often find myself trying out unfamiliar texts in a casual, frequently interrupted listening environment. I will click on a reading from PENNsound or UBUweb and let it run while I wash the dishes, check my email, or wait for the bus. The digital format of literary audio files opens up the potential for a new, expanded relationship that moves beyond compartmentalized periods of sober study and more into everyday life. I often ask students to experiment with putting a recording on repeat while they do various daily activities. Amateur “ambient” listening has been a good way for me to engage with difficult texts. This kind of listening strategy seems particularly useful when dealing with contemporary writing.
In Michael Davidson’s essay By ear, he sd’: Audio-Tapes and Contemporary Criticism, he discusses the value of a repeated listening practice:
By listening over and over again to a reading, the listener begins to hear what the page can never render: the emphasis and character of the line, the pausing and halting of a voice among caesurae, the pattern of vowel music, the tone of delivery—and of course those points where the ear has failed and the line has gone flat. The ear hears the general trajectory of words, the large movements of syntactic play, the rhythms, which remain as much the meaning of the poem as does its semantic content. (par. 26)
Recently, I ended a creative writing for non-majors class by creating an audio anthology of student work. Students selected 5 minutes of their writing and read it to the class and into a small mp3 recorder. I usually create some form of print publication in my classes. However, I sometimes have the feeling that these paper texts are quickly recycled. I posted the recordings as individual files for each student as well as one collective file of the group to the online classroom management site, Blackboard. I was able to track the number of downloads of the individual and group files. I was excited to see that the files had been downloaded many times. Although there was no grade attached to downloading and listening to one another, students enthusiastically engaged with their peer’s texts. I was also happy to see that several of those downloads occurred well after the course ended.
On the Google wave where panel members are discussing our upcoming AWP presentation, Michelle has shared a number of fascinating links to resources for writing teachers curious about using Twitter, chat, and other Web 2.0 technologies to augment the teaching of poetry. Here is a sampler:
43 Pedagogical Approaches for Twitter in Teaching:
Using Chat as an Instructional Tool:
Professors Experiment with Twitter as Teaching Tool
Engaging Students via Technology @ Penn
We’d be grateful if you’d share your response to these articles and post comments about your own experiments and practices using web technologies in (and outside of) your classrooms. Thanks!
Welcome! This blog supports The Networked Poetry Classroom, a panel exploring the best uses of Web 2.0 technologies in high school, college, and graduate school poetry curricula. We invite you to attend and participate in our panel presentation at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs 2010 conference in Denver.
Our panel meets on Thursday, April 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. in Mineral Hall at the Hyatt Regency Denver, Third Floor.
Here you will find relevant posts, comments, and resources from panel participants Eric Baus, Chris Hosea, Dorothea Lasky, Mathias Svalina, and Michelle Taransky. You will find links to writings about networked learning, as well as resources and best practices. We encourage you to join in the discussion and debate. We hope this blog will be a growing and lively resource for teachers who use technology to teach writing. We welcome your participation!