LITR 3731: Creative Writing
Lecture Notes 2008

3rd meeting, 2nd poetry class

"image clusters" > extended metaphors

poetry workshop: Marcus / Natalie

begin workshop review



poetry workshop: Tara / Hillary

more workshop review?

midterm preview


Thursday, 10 September:  Second poetry workshop class + discussion of workshop

1st Poetry Author: Marcus Austin

1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Natalie Walker

2nd Poetry Author: Tara McGee

2nd Author’s Discussion Leader: Hillary Roth

Web Highlight on 2008 poems & revision accounts: Faron Samford

Discussion:  What happens during a workshop? Improvements to presentations / discussions?

Thursday, 17 September: Third poetry workshop class + discussion of reading assignments

Reading assignmentThree Genres, ch. 7 (pp. 94-104); ch. 8 (pp. 105-116); ch. 9 (pp. 117-127)

Reading highlight: Alicia Costello

1st Poetry Author: Niki Bippen

1st Author’s Discussion Leader: Faron Samford


fall poetry series next Wed, Sept. 16th from 5-6:30 PM.  Please come and share your work, listen, or just sit in at Cappuccino Bono next week.













review quizzes

Note "incomplete sentences are acceptable"

Write fast--I read fast--I look for evidence that you read the assignment, then move on to the next question or quiz

question 3:

3. The textbook also suggests “Six ways to jump-start a new poem” (pp. 54-6). Summarize one or more.

 Tanya's answer: "Read poetry."




discuss workshop

Discussion: What happens during a workshop? Improvements to presentations / discussions?

What happens during a workshop?

Improvements to presentations / discussions?

read relevant passages from syllabus

Workshop questions:


Difficulty of maintaining pleasant encouraging atmosphere versus serious work


Since it’s a creative writing course, the default is to let students determine standards by what they do

Upside: surprising, spontaneous creativity catches fire among students

Downside: statistically a few students will be here just to get 3 credits and will do as little as possible without drawing attention to themselves

Instructor must be cautious on same terms


How intensify the workshop critique? How challenge students who bring in a draft that seems casual and undeveloped?

Ask author for input

comments on paper are non-confrontational


Can or should Discussion Leaders’ questions be suggested or formalized?

How many drafts?

What was your biggest problem? What do you want to improve?

Have some standard questions plus discussion leader free to ask questions

required questions

generic question / prompt that can be varied for the particular poem


How coordinate author and discussion leader?

quiz time for conference


When presentation schedule is handed out, let authors and discussion leaders meet to swap contact information.


Review Discussion Leader assignment



For those not presenting or leading discussions on a given night, this course isn't very demanding . . . 

Do your reading and be ready for a quiz + reading discussion (more on this later tonight)

Contribute to workshop discussions . . . 

but remember deadlines and preparations necessary

danger of just showing up is that you forget that deadlines approach, especially if you're doing draft exchanges . . .



review previous class

question of what to do, how much to do in a course like this--

Is a course like this substantial enough to receive college credit?

Partial answer: Literature offers only one undergrad course in Creative Writing

But worth a chance: Even if the course isn't very substantial in terms of reading, it attracts creative people who can turn it into something

If nothing else, whether you like it or not, experience a creative workshop atmosphere

Except for one-on-one review and editing, which is expensive, this is the only way most creative writing classes know how to work

Minimal organization 

Throw creative people together, see what happens


Last week, we all jumped into the deep end of a "workshop experience"

experience varied: some of it was free-for-all, chaotic, or a waste of time; but other parts suddenly became purposeful, helpful--created their own organization and reality

teacher's mission: guarantee maximum freedom of expression but keep it going somewhere

everybody's mission: learn and adapt on the fly

Class will always be crowded, no matter what—not much leisure for reflection during class

But adjustments can be made, input welcome concerning changes


Format changes in workshop

author and discussion leader will lead from front



Evolving attitude changes for everyone:

Two aspects to poetry that come up in workshop, since it's in person:

1. inspiration or event that led to poem (death of an elder or friend, birth of child, betrayal, first love)

2. the poem itself--the words on the page

What you can learn:

focus on work, poem, text, art

repress reflections on subject matter--

last class: suicide subject, or random violence subject

People want to share, natural human response, OK

+ sometimes less sensitive to talk about the subject matter of the poem than to criticize the formal qualities of the poem 


What to do instead?

> more "criticism of form"--not the idea as much as the expression of the idea

less ethical discussion or discussions of shared experience 


Practice and commitment to process help


Two aspects to emphasize in formal criticism of poetry:


Development of images > image clusters


Sound—rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, etc.


Three Genres, ch. 1

p. 1 line, images, sound, rhythm, density

p. 3 images = senses

p. 4 a genre of the senses


an image can appeal to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch

but mostly visual

Ch. 4 Images: The Essential element


57 images as concrete nouns (explain “concrete”)

Opposite: abstraction

> translate into sight and sound

58 a fully developed image

58-9 strong nouns, x-adjectives

59 images > figures of speech

60 simile, metaphor—both comparisons

60 examples

62-3 other figures of speech

63 cliché as dying metaphor

65 image as symbol, greater range of meaning

67 public symbol

68- image clusters (extended metaphor)



extended metaphor


















Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.

In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.

So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.

D. H. Lawrence


images make you feel 

honest, fresh feeling rooted in familiar experience

"as strange and familiar as a dream"






Bump my reading review to next class—bring books