Monday, September 9, 2013

September 10, 2013: What's Happening in A.P. Literature?

Focus: Translating your prose reading skills into timed writing skills

1. Warm-up: Offering you my timed writing tip of the day:

Look for the SHIFT.  
This is less eloquently known as circling your buts (and your howevers, yets, insteads, and other words that indicate shift).  Most poems and prose pieces have at least one shift; some are obvious, and some are more subtle.  Keep an eye out for changes in character, imagery, and tone and ask yourself what the author is trying to do and how he/she is trying to do it.

2. Trying to find the shift in this quick poem by Billy Collins:
Questions to consider:

  • Where is the shift?
  • What is the shift (from what to what)?
  • Why is the shift important to the poem as a whole?

Child Development

As sure as prehistoric fish grew legs
and sauntered off the beaches into forests
working up some irregular verbs for their
first conversation, so three-year-old children
enter the phase of name-calling.

Every day a new one arrives and is added
to the repertoire. You Dumb Goopyhead,
You Big Sewerface, You Poop-on-the-Floor
(a kind of Navaho ring to that one)
they yell from knee level, their little mugs
flushed with challenge.
Nothing Samuel Johnson would bother tossing out
in a pub, but then the toddlers are not trying
to devastate some fatuous Enlightenment hack.

They are just tormenting their fellow squirts
or going after the attention of the giants
way up there with their cocktails and bad breath
talking baritone nonsense to other giants,
waiting to call them names after thanking
them for the lovely party and hearing the door close.

The mature save their hothead invective
for things: an errant hammer, tire chains,
or receding trains missed by seconds,
though they know in their adult hearts,
even as they threaten to banish Timmy to bed
for his appalling behavior,
that their bosses are Big Fatty Stupids,
their wives are Dopey Dopeheads
and that they themselves are Mr. Sillypants. 

3. Composing Tuesday Writing #2: Prose (40 minutes)

1. Continue following the WH reading schedule: Through Ch XX for tomorrow, Ch XXI + reading ticket for Friday's Socratic seminar.

2. Bring a draft of your college essay to class tomorrow (either hard copy or electronic copy is fine--however you'd prefer it to be edited).

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