An Instant Thought is not Necessarily an Instant Poem

At the Lone Star- CyFair college campus where I teach English Lit. and Composition courses, I closed out the term with a common brainstorming exercise used to warm up an author’s writing synapses. Each student was supplied a random word: epiphany, poetry, or pomegranate. In turn, the students defined the word in personal, expressive fashion— building metaphors or allusions to explain their individual reactions. Afterwards, the class read their lines one-by-one, a collective poem— multiple ideas blurred into one final work.

Earlier this year, at the close of the spring term, I used a similar idea, with positive results.

In both cases, the writing experience helped break down barriers and helped build a closer relationship between student and text.
The supplied links below break down the current product of the three classes from Fall 2014:

• Lone Star–CyFair College:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5009

• Lone Star–CyFair College:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5011

• Lone Star–CyFair Colleg:
English Composition & Rhetoric 1302-5014
Using jazz as my own metaphor: I love the fact that once they are collected together the student's instinctive voices merge in an improvisational range of themes. A mixture of harmonies. Range of rhythms. A clutch of wild flowers. Out of the conceived chaos of individual ideas, a structure of community presented itself, stressing the unique, personable phrase.

Since we had spent approximately a month examining connotation of words, unreliable personae, and basic phrase manipulation, my aim for this last assignment was to provide students a better understanding of the creative mindset itself— moving their thought process from strictly academic rhetoric to an unpredictable, energetic metaphor.

Admittedly, for some people switching gears like this produces frustration— but the experience of such irritations equally serve a strong purpose, just as being able to break down a writer’s philosophical argument. People often overlook the fact that a casual phrase may have to be developed over many weeks of wrestling with words.

An instant thought is not necessarily an instant poem. Strong ideas need to be developed slowly. Hesitantly and very carefully.


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