Monday, September 22, 2008

A Good Day in Class

Today's poetry class was my annual session on meter and form. There is only so much one can cover in an hour and fifty minutes (it becomes a race to get everything said), but about halfway through I realized that I was actually making sense and that the students were tracking what I was saying. That gave me a bit of confidence, and things went even more smoothly in the final forty minutes. We read and briefly discussed examples of sonnets, villanelles, rhymed quatrains and sestinas, and discussed prosodic symbols and the major metrical feet. I use Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms by Miller Williams (Louisiana State University Press, 1986) as a source book, a text I like because it works well for beginners and is also precise and quite thorough. Their assignment is to write a poem in the form of their choice. We will workshop several of the drafts on Wednesday, I will review all of the drafts, and then the students will have an opportunity to revise their work.

It isn't any great thing, of course, to lead a basic discussion of meter and form--the students should expect that from me--but I am particularly pleased because I wasn't happy with my performance the last time I led a class on these topics. I did a much better job of it today--I was well-organized, made my little points, and made it clear how they could use the class materials to help them with their poems.

I have a good group of students this semester, and today we pretty much rocked.


Blogger Leslie said...

That is A LOT of ground to cover in one class. I had two semesters of forms in grad school.

And I like the Williams book a lot. The examples aren't the best but the the way he explains the forms is pretty darned good.

10:02 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


I am glad that this is a "pre-beginner" class and I only have to make it clear to them that forms exist, why they exist and what they can do for a poem.

If I had to really teach scanning and forms--oh, my.

You are right about Miller's examples--I hadn't thought of it, but they AREN'T always the best. But his explanations are good.

7:15 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love those moments of clarity while teaching when I realize, Hey I know what I'm talking about for real! Kudos.

8:57 AM  
Blogger The Weaver of Grass said...

Greg - I wish you were over here in the UK - how I would love to attend your poetry class.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Andrew Shields said...

Those moments of realization that you actually CAN teach the stuff are the best thing about teaching! Glad you got there, Greg!

5:01 PM  

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