Monday, May 18, 2009

On Narrative Difficulty

Internet's incredibly slow this morning (as many of you know, because we live in the country, we have to use Satellite broadband). It's partly cloudy, so that could account for some of my difficulty on the web today.

I'm currently taking a respite from my grading. I had students write some persona poems and they did so with much difficulty. I suspect it's quite difficult for some newer writers to move beyond the ego. Either that, or they've spent much of their time in college discovering self-hood that to be asked to move out of self-hood stretches them in uncomfortable ways.

I don't remember a time when I struggled with writing outside of myself--mostly because when I was a younger writer, I wanted to get away from myself--who I was then.

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Currently discussing with some grad students the problem of incorporating characters into a long poem or a manuscript. I'll tell you what I told them--

When you introduce a character in a manuscript, the character(s) often inadvertently become the pivot-point for a manuscript. All poems that surround them then seem to, in some way, service the character. If the surrounding poems don't, then it's up to the writer to determine whether or not they want those surrounding poems to service the narrative of the character or whether they want to take the manuscript in a different direction.

It is, however, relatively easy to move through a collection's narrative once you have a character established. A couple of my grads are finding that they can't stop writing from character. That, unfortunately, is also a side-effect of writing poems with characters in them. It's easy to get attached to the conventions of such writing. Berryman couldn't stop. Neither can (could) Bell.

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And in other narratives, this is re-hash for most of you, but it's collected here on the NewPages blog: The Future of University Presses and Journals (A Manifesto).

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Finally, I saw the renewal of an old narrative that I watched with great joy in my childhood. The Star Trek film, was joyous, epic, and just what I needed as a respite from the troubled times my family's having. Sometimes I too want to open the door to a parallel universe.

Loved the updated McCoy and Spock. Wasn't too keen on Simon Pegg's Scotty, or the fresh take on Checkov. I had a hard time seeing Checkov in the fresh-faced actor who played him in the film. But otherwise, I really enjoyed the film.

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And other things I'm enjoying:

1 comment:

jeannine said...

That's funny - I've almost universally had great results from newer writers with persona poem exercises! High school kids, community college students, undergrads.... I think the key is having them pick characters wildly outside of those whom *grammar?* they might usually identify with.