pedagogy

Urgent possibilities

An interview with Andrea Quaid and Harold Abramowitz

Digital feeds at the end of March seemed like a dire rush of pandemic and political news; however, at moments, one may have seen a flood of posts that featured the gorgeously designed cardboard boxes of Urgent Possibilities, Writings on Feminist Poetics & Emergent Pedagogies light up the streams as a buoying intervention.

Alternative poetries and alternative pedagogies

Joan Retallack, Kelly Writers House, 2001

The Kelly Writers House in 2007; photo by Bruce Anderson, via Wikimedia Commons.
The Kelly Writers House in 2007; photo by Bruce Anderson, via Wikimedia Commons.

Editorial note: The following is an edited transcript of a discussion about the pedagogical future of experimental poetics that took place at the Kelly Writers House on February 28, 2001. The discussion opened with an introduction by Al Filreis and an extended reading from poet Joan Retallack, which included her “Memnoir,” excerpts from Errata 5uite, and “Here’s Looking at You, Francis Bacon,” and Gertrude Stein’s “What Is This?”

Editorial note: The following is an edited transcript of a discussion about the pedagogical future of experimental poetics that took place at the Kelly Writers House on February 28, 2001.

Learning by doing

A review of 'Spellbound: The Art of Teaching Poetry'

Photo via <a href=https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Transon,_moldings,_and

I collect poetry handbooks — as if by simply possessing them I could conquer my teaching anxieties. I’ll also admit that I have rarely, if ever, used the exercises and prompts in these how-to’s — neither the ones in Robin Behn and Chase Twichell’s The Practice of Poetry or in Kenneth Koch’s classic Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?, nor in any of the others. Pleasure lies in reading these books the way armchair cooks read recipes: intellectually savoring subtle combinations of flavors and forms while never tasting them in the kitchen.

I collect poetry handbooks — as if by simply possessing them I could conquer my teaching anxieties. I’ll also admit that I have rarely, if ever, used the exercises and prompts in these how-to’s — neither the ones in Robin Behn and Chase Twichell’s The Practice of Poetry or in Kenneth Koch’s classic Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?, nor in any of the others. Pleasure lies in reading these books the way armchair cooks read recipes: intellectually savoring subtle combinations of flavors and forms while never tasting them in the kitchen.

Sensual infrastructure

A review of Jen Currin's 'School'

I bought Jen Currin’s School at Seattle’s beloved Open Books: A Poem Emporium. A friend encouraged me to get the collection, so I did. 

Language and pedagogy

Practical strategies for a multilingual classroom

Cecilia Vicuña
Cecilia Vicuña

Those of us who teach know that the various cultural debates around multilingualism worm their ways into our classrooms. At the K-12 level especially, bi- and multilingual education have specific consequences for funding: the fear is that English Language Learners (ELLs) will lower schools’ test scores, resulting in a punitive drop in already meager funding. In higher ed, many universities are getting rid of foreign language requirements (although they’re still promoting study abroad as a great resumé-booster and as the ticket to success in an increasingly globalized economy). At all levels of education, of course, there are many students who are second-language (or third- or fourth-language) speakers, and students speak varieties of English other than the ones that are privileged in traditional education. Many of these students want to improve their use of Standard English, but that doesn't mean they should be made to feel as though there is an "English Only" sign on the classroom door. 

It may seem a bit beside the point to bring these educational and cultural debates into a conversation about poetry, but I think that the relative openness to multilingualism that is readily visible in so many poems can serve as a helpful corrective to the transparent and univocal conception of language that reigns supreme in most educational settings.

Coupling

Collage I made of the The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Figure 88 in the b
Collage I made of the The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Figure 88 in the book, and QED Rules (courtesy of wikipedia).

In Richard P. Feynman’s book, A Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton University Press, 1985), collecting his lectures on quantum electrodynamics, an agreement between quantum mechanics and relativity is attempted by describing interactions between light (photons) and matter (electrons), which are thought to travel to and from anywhere in the universe at any time. Like other quantum field theories of physics such as string theory, quantum electrodynamics proposes that spacetime cannot be defined by the Newtonian, Euclidian, and Aristotelian laws that once conceived of time as though it was an arrow moving through a distinct past, present, and future. Space is no longer conceived of as though its points could be connected by lines that do not exist in the natural world. A Strange Theory of Light and Matter is one of the foundational texts assigned in Rae Armantrout and Brian Keating’s breakthrough course, Poetry for Physicists, currently underway at the University of California at San Diego.

ModPo on 'The Today Show'

A 6-minute segment on ModPo was aired on The Today Show on Monday morning, December 10. Later it was made available through the MSNBC web site here.

ModPo overview

The enrollment in this free, 10-week noncredit course on modern and contemporary American poetry was 42,523 in the fall of 2012, and 38,150 in the fall of 2013 and 38,800 in the fall of 2014, 34,000 in the fall of 2015, and 21,000 in the fall of 2016. Contributions to the discussion forums were read (well, viewed) 957,000 times in 2012. Video recordings of collaborative close readings of poems were viewed nearly a half million times in ten weeks (in '12, '13 and '14 each). The course site remains open for those enrolled for another nine months after each session ends in mid-November. Here are some links:

1. ModPo home page (you can enroll any time—it's free)
2. participant reviews (CourseTalk site)
3. Facebook group: ongoing, although the course has officially ended
4. a blog created by ModPo’ers: to continue post-ModPo
5. a blogroll of ModPo students’ post-ModPo blogs
6. introductory video
7. twitter feed, ModPoPenn (ongoing)
8. ModPo YouTube channel (includes recordings of live webcast sessions)
9. blog review/update
10. another blog review
11. another blog review
12. another review
13. another review

Visualizing Paterson

Question gallery.
Question gallery.

Our first week on Williams’s Paterson we began by constructing a question gallery. First, come up with a question about some key detail of the poem. Second, come up with a question about some formal element of the poem. Third, come up with a question about a larger question raised by the poem. Once the questions have been pinned to the wall, used colored post-its to annotate, respond to, and further question the questions.

MOOCs and access = 'revolutionary'

Wildly over the top, but charming and fascinating: http://bit.ly/Oijddm. ModPo will change the world, she says. I'm heartened by what she says about class, and by this: “Granting access to knowledge to everyone, anywhere in the world, no matter their level of education, or motives for learning, is downright revolutionary” and “I’d call it one of the greatest humanitarian efforts we’ve seen. So when class starts just a few hours from now, Indeed my world will change forever.”

Syndicate content