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. Spend a good twenty minutes doing this until the wall is covered with slips of paper. Then, rip off the post-its you like. Then, write a found poem using only the language in those post-its. Tape your poem to the wall. Return the post-its to their original homes — or to the place you think they fit best. (This activity once again borrowed from erica kaufman at the Institute for Writing Thinking.)
Graduate students don’t often get to play with big sheets of papers and colored markers. I did not instruct them to draw pictures. But here’s what they came up with without even asking.