Friday, 7 November 2008

Class Acts

The week took a turn toward delight when my Sask Lit students considered Sheri Benning's "Bird-bones", which one of them had selected. What poetry is, how it works, what it can do--this poem, located somewhere between the poles of "nearer" and "further" I've been using, arbitrarily, to classify our poems, helps the students to shade their understanding of such matters. It tells a story, takes a leap, leaves questions, gestures toward both familiar and unknown territory. Just right for the group of readers in my class.

They talked the poem over with no intro from me whatsoever, other than to the process I wanted them to follow--everyone speaks, someone writes down comments, when running out of things to say go back into the poem, etc.--and as sometimes happens at the best of such times (from my perspective), they come up with commentary I hadn't thought of myself.

Earlier today, considering Tim O'Brien's anti-Vietnam War story "The Things They Carried", two students got into a mock argument about whether it was about war wrecking love, or love wrecking war. (In the story, a Lieutenant is daydreaming about a past love when one of his men is shot to death.)

Anything is better than just me talking.

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