Last week Dr. McCoy passed out a packet which was comprised of some of her favorite poems. While reading through the poems together as a class I was immediately drawn to one of the poems due to a personal connection. When the line “what do you call it when a man sets his own house on fire, takes up a sniper position, and waits for firefighters?” was read out loud I instantly felt a connection to Jamaal May poem “The Gun Joke.”
During class this past week, we were provided with a packet of some of Dr. McCoy’s favorite poems. As a class, we took the time to read the poems aloud and internally reflect on each of them. While all the compiled poems appealed to me, one in specific caught my attention. A certain rawness and vulnerability surrounded Cornelius Eady’s poem, “Crows in a Strong Wind.” The poem offers a duality by evoking both simplicity in its subject, but complexity with its underlying message. I believe this duality and the poem’s connections to class resulted in it being my favorite among the others. Continue reading “Flying Back to Cornelius Eady”
When the Teaching Assistants led the class on March 11, 2019, I did not know what to expect. When they began with a Human Clay exercise I was confused and felt out of my comfort zone. This activity required three people in a group: one person as the sculptor and the other two as the clay. The sculptor would mold their clays into the word that the TA’s instructed. Then, after forty-five seconds of working with the clay, the sculptor was able to walk around the room to view how other people interpreted the word. The words given to us in class were: difference, unity, conflict, grounded, peace, aliveness, and care.
The human clay exercise inspired me into thinking more about the variety of perceptions that can arise based off of one word, thought, or idea. The class was separated into groups and given 45 seconds to create a sculpture based off of a word we were given, with one person acting as the sculptor and two people acting as the clay. Despite the fact that we were all given the same word I was stunned to see that everyone created something different/unique. As I was participating in this exercise, I tried to think about how this experience could relate to this class and particularly Steve Prince’s artwork. One of my first thoughts led to our different perceptions on Prince’s pieces and what each of my peers are able to get out of analyzing his work. The specific piece I thought of was the Katrina’s Veil Stand at the Gretna Bridge and one of the main topics of discussion being whether the horsemen were good or evil. Continue reading “The Human Clay Exercise”
Upon its first consideration, the task of choosing a favorite poem from Angles of Ascent seemed difficult, if not daunting. Beyond the difficulty of pinning down one poem in anthology of hundreds, this assignment came with the pressure of defending my choice beyond the simple response of “I like it.” Continue reading “On Favorites and Doing What You Love”
I’m a local. I was born in the greater Rochester area, and I’ve always lived in same house. Upstate New York has a lot of talent packed into its square miles. While browsing the anthology, Angles of Ascent, I flipped to the back of the collection to the biographical notes on the authors who are included in the anthology. The first line stuck out to me of Cornelius Eady’s note: “was born in Rochester, New York…” As I read further, I learned that he attended Monroe Community College and eventually ended up directing the creative writing program at Notre Dame University, along with teaching at many other colleges. To top off his impressive track record, in 1999, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in the drama category, and in 2001 his book of poetry, Brutal Imagination, was nominated for The National Book Award in the poetry category.
As I was re-reading sections of Big Machine by Victor LaValle, I couldn’t help but notice a reference to another work of literature. The character Lake has a name taken directly from “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s short story, Lake is part of a group of scientists on an expedition to Antarctica who means his end at the hands of strange, and alien entities that he finds living there. While this might sound odd, I believe that Lake’s name is reflective of other “Lovecraftian” elements seen throughout the text. Continue reading “Big Machine, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Unknown”
Recently I attended a Diversity Summit session titled Culturally Responsive Classrooms through Critical Literacy and Learning presented by Dr. Thea Yurkewecz and Dr. Crystal Simmons. At the session, we discussed the significant underrepresentation and misrepresentation of groups of people in classroom libraries. Critical literacy is a tool for teachers to choose books that are culturally sensitive and help students to study representation in texts. This is a way for teachers to avoid the dangers of the single-story, as presented in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk.
I think the session was highly relevant to ENGL 337 in two ways. Firstly, critical literacy is a lens through which we can examine our course texts. That will not be the focus of my blog post, but I will include the critical literacy guiding questions from the session in case anyone is interested. Secondly, critical literacy addresses the physical and figurative space taken up by African-American literature on bookshelves. Continue reading “Critical Literacy, Library Space, & Unlikely Scholars”
Recently, as a part of the Art of Steve Prince course, our class was given the opportunity to visit the Lederer Art Gallery on campus. While we were there, gallery director Cynthia Hawkins gave us a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run the art gallery. She discussed with us the different aspects of her job, such as planning exhibits, bringing in outside collections of artworks, as well as how she stores art pieces that are given to the Lederer permanently. This discussion was one that stood out to me, in part because it reminded me of all the work that I do in maintaining and curating the Kinetic Gallery. The Kinetic Gallery is a student-run art gallery on campus that falls under the Geneseo Campus Activities Board. As the Art and Exhibits Coordinator, I have the job of planning and executing all of the exhibits and art programs for the Kinetic for the academic year. As such, it was no wonder that Dr. Hawkins presentation was of interest to me. Continue reading “Process in an Art Exhibit”
In class this week, Dr. McCoy introduced us to some of her favorite poems in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American poetry by Charles H. Rowell. This anthology is more focused on post-1960’s poetry. Before class, I browsed through the book and a few things jumped out at me that we also were curious about in class. Why did Rowell choose these certain poems to go into the book when there are millions in the world to choose from? While reading some of the poems throughout the book I have noticed that every poem has a strong and/or moving meaning or story behind it. The anthology description of the book describes it as “not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody.” Every poem in this anthology is touching on some sort of problem.