Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Word life

Tomorrow I'll tell my Sask Lit students that their stories written in the manner of Warren Cariou's Lake of the Prairies makes for a powerful combination, most pleasing to read. I may ask them to stand up, extend their right arm behind the person next to them, and pat. (This term for the first time I've not brought up the topic of plural pronouns with singular antecedents.)

We'll finish with the Cariou this week, then seven or eight more poems and maybe two or three short stories. For their last essay, they have to offer conclusions about Saskatchewan poetry based on the 25-30 poems they selected for us to read in class, poor sods. In the past, students have tended to make safe choices, but not this time. Maybe I framed the task differently, I'm not sure. But they come up with not just dandy-but-safe poems but about a dozen poems that have given all of us, me included, plenty of questions.

By the way, inevitably the word "fuck" or some other such word will show up, with corresponding uncertainty about whether or not it's ok to say it. Past classes have included such moments as "Yes! I've always wanted to say it", everyone saying it in unison, me chanting it, or no one taking any notice of it whatsoever. Monday one student was reading some Cariou aloud, when there it was. He paused ever so slightly and said "f-word" and read on.


Anonymous said...

I think the thing that you did right was not to tell them that these would be the poems that they would study in class. The way you presented it made it seem that it was just an assignment to choose a poem, and so they had no reservations when selecting, allowing them to take risks.

Gerald Hill said...

No, I did tell them their choices would be the ones we all read. But I also urged them to take a chance with their choosing.