Question of Originality





T 25-Oct    Read/Discuss:

» Key resources (for discussion leaders and blog entries):


Blog Entry    due Thursday (updated); see tips below.


R 27-Oct    John Ashbery, 3 poems; Frank O’Hara, 5 poems (online)


S 29-Oct    Due: Response 3Prompt


F 28-Oct & S 29-Oct    extra credit opportunity:

        English Graduate Organization Conference

      • Attend panel and write blog entry (about topic of panel or one speaker).




Response 3: “Make it new!” — Creative Writing exercise (read closely)

      500 words; due S 29-Oct
      Post to blog; respond to classmate’s by M 30-Oct (optional / extra credit)
      » Extra Credit — Critical Response (optional)   due M 30-Oct


Pound; “Make it new” // Tolstoy: “Make it strange” (de-familiarize the ordinary)
Hirshfield: “mind of originality”

» Prompt: Refashion a text/story familiar to you in a new way: rewrite in a brief fragment using another mode and/or form than the original; model a technique/approach of one recent poet, even though writing in prose.
— In order to signal your poet modeled, include at least one reference from their work, even if subtle (e.g. one of their specific words, images, references)

    Modes: Narrative, Reference, Lyric / Expression
    “Frequencies” (Hirschfield): Music, Rhetoric, Image, Emotion, Story, Voice
    Logic: indirection / direct expression; figure (metaphor, metonymy)
    Poets: T.S. Eliot, H.D. Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton,
        Hart Crane, Amy Lowell, Marianne Moore, John Ashberry, Frank O’Hara
    — Key context: Modernism
    — Aesthetic approach: Figure, Image, Metaphor + Metonymy, Indirection, “objective correlative” (Eliot).

» Example idea: change presentation from indirect to direct, or vice versa.
— This can be any story familiar to you, including one we’ve read this term.
Key strategy: consider form of the original and its primary mode; refashion into another mode (not necessarily “opposite”), using the logic of poetry.

Alternative strategy: choose one poem we’ve read and reformulate in this way.
— Example approach: change from primarily image/sensory to narrative; or select one of the key images (in poem) and expand with new/additional description (excluding story and reference). The same could be attempted using a key reference or a story element, imagining and presenting an expanded narrative.

» Composition tip: The content is essentially “Readymade” for you, in the original; the main goal is to innovate the re-presentation, in creative fashion.
The text should be composed as one or two fragments, using all words purposefully (economy of poetry) and deliberately considering mode.

Extra Credit (short; ~250 words?):
» Read and respond to a classmate’s entry,
discussing the main strategy you notice—the switch in mode and/or form—and the effects.
— While this is an implicit comparison, avoid summarizing the original or your interpretation too much;
likewise, avoid statements of evaluation or opinion.


Extra Credit (additional response, 400-500 words):
Compose a critical response about one poet (or two): make a case for a “movement” (aesthetic literary label), given the key characteristics we’ve studied regarding techniques, forms, and modes.
While not required, might respond to the views in literary criticism articulated by Norton editors or contributors to Modern American Poetry pages on your author(s).
In either case, crucial to consult for context (and to cite whenever discussing). So, you are not constrained to arguing against established labels, for example — “Imagist,” “Confessional,” “New York School” — but rather can propose a label with example evidence, using your author as a representative case.
Alternatively, you could work toward this idea as a brief conclusion by describing in detail how this poet composes (main techniques, prevalence of modes, effects), citing one particular poem.
In either case, be sure to conclude with brief discussion about your new understanding of traditions and movements in American poetry at this beginning stage of our study
(perhaps in relation to prior ideas and experience with authors or poetic language).



  1. Diego Aviles / Oct 24th, 2011 22:11 Quote Reply


    Similarly to what we have discussed in class about poetry, Hart Crane believed that a metaphor is one of the main differences that distinguishes poetry and simple narratives. As a self-defined follower of Walt Whitman, how does Crane demonstrate Whitman’s ideal of the “visionary, prophetic, affirmative American tradition” through his use metaphors in his poetry?

  2. ADMIN
    Gary Hink / Oct 24th, 2011 23:27 Quote Reply

    Crane poems:

      1. Chaplinesque
      2. At Melville’s Tomb
      3. Voyages
      I (“Above the fresh ruffles of the surf”)
      III (“Infinite consanguinity it bears—”)
      V (“Meticulous, past midnight in clear rime”)

    4. To Brooklyn Bridge

    Lowell poems:

      1. The Captured Goddess
      2. Venus Transiens
      3. Madonna of the Evening Flowers
      4. September, 1918
      5. St. Louis
      6. New Heavens for Old

    Moore poems:

      1. Poetry
      2. To a Snail
      3. The Paper Nautilus
      4. The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing
      5. In Distrust of Merits
  3. ADMIN
    Gary Hink / Oct 24th, 2011 23:30 Quote Reply


    Word of the Day
    Monday, October 24, 2011


    \an-oh-EE-sis\ , noun;

      1. A state of mind consisting of pure sensation or emotion without cognitive content.

  4. ADMIN
    Gary Hink / Oct 26th, 2011 13:19 Quote Reply

    John Ashbery poems (Norton):

      1. Illustration
      2. Soonest Mended
      3. Myrtle


    Frank O’Hara poems (read online):

      1. Ave Maria
      2. Meditations in an Emergency
      3. On Seeing Larry Rivers’ Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art
      4. Personal Poem
      5. The Day Lady Died

      7. “Having a Coke with You” (PDF from RandomHouse)


    • ADMIN
      Gary Hink / Oct 27th, 2011 11:07 Quote Reply

      @Gary Hink
      (from chat discussion this morning)
      Descriptions of Ashbery’s & O’Hara’s poetry:

      • Randall Mann, writing about Ashbery, says “I probably loved the strangeness of it; the abstract particulars; the things unsaid; the benign obscurity, to borrow a phrase from Donald Justice. But truthfully I was just seduced, and it didn’t much matter why.”
      • “Everything’s suspect, and there is so much withheld.”
      • “His brilliance is not merely that he can swoop from high to low diction, but that his method provides the illusion of intimacy, all the while holding back, just so. This is not a defense against feeling but sentimentality.”

      On Frank O’Hara:

      • “Urbane, ironic, sometimes genuinely celebratory and often wildly funny”
        “O’Hara sought to capture in his poetry the immediacy of life, feeling that poetry should be “between two persons instead of two pages.”
        Modern American Poetry
      • “a refreshing new casualness and spontaneity to poetry, making deliriously funny and surprisingly moving verse out of everyday activities recounted in conversational tones.”
      • “impromptu lyrics, a jumble of witty talk, journalistic parodies, and surrealist imagery.”


  5. ADMIN
    Gary Hink / Oct 26th, 2011 13:21 Quote Reply

    Blog entry suggestion:
    try discussing a basic question: what is the mood/atmosphere evoked by a poem, and how? (by what specific words or images?)
    We are considering the “how” (technique) in our study of various literary modes: narrative, reference, image, expression.
    Or in Hirschfield’s terms, the “concentrations” (or “frequencies,” as I say) of a poem:
    — Music, Rhetoric, Image, Emotion, Story, Voice

    As I said in class, I strongly suggest reading the supplemental material — e.g. Norton editors’ introductions; links to pages — in order to better understand with additional angles on our objects of study, situating historically and in aesthetic “movements” for instance.
    On the last point, in addition to the pages for the authors, I suggest reading “A Brief Guide to Modernism” and “A Brief Guide to ImagismorA Brief Guide to the New York School
    (depending whom you blog about).
    Modern American Poets also has pages for each author, which you might want to consult for blogging about a particular poem (and definitely for writing an optional critical response this weekend).
    For example, Richard Houston’s discussion of “Chaplinesque” by Hart Crane.


  6. ADMIN
    Gary Hink / Oct 26th, 2011 13:42 Quote Reply

    — Additional resources for blog entry and/or Critical Response (optional):

    Pound: “Make it new”
    // John Ashbery: “Make it sweet again!”


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  1. Nov 3rd, 2011 16:32