This semester is going by so quickly! And just so you know, I have switched topics for my critical paper. Instead of writing on the use of poetry in the composition classroom, I am writing on the poetry itself - doing more of a critical analysis. This will focus on hybridity and/or pluralism in American identity as represented in poetry. Specifically, I'm looking at Agha Shahid Ali's A Nostalgist's Map of America (remember him?), Robert Penn Warren's Audubon: A Vision, and Louise Gluck's Averno. All three are wonderful books - check them out!
Now, am I giving up on the critical thinking through poetry experiment? No! I continue to use this technique in my classes. Last week we read and researched Warren's "Tell me a Story," and this week we are using Kim Addonizio's "Scary Movies." Overall, this warm-up strategy is still working well, and my students are being exposed to poetry and poets they might have never read otherwise. Our in-class discussions are productive and continue to be relatable to writing in general. Take Tuesday's class: one student blogged his "story" based on Warren's poem. It was VERY brief and had no detail. We ended up having a good talk about showing, not telling, and emphasizing that showing is necessary in academic writing as much as it is in creative writing.
I am putting off this topic until the end of the semester so I can gather data from the entire experience, rather than trying to force a paper out of half a class. I plan on writing this paper and trying to publish it at a later date.
So...identity - hot topic. Controversial topic. And something I have been fascinated with for just about ever. Wrote my master's thesis on it using Salman Rushdie novels. (Which you should read, of course! My favorite is The Moor's Last Sigh.) Right now, I am examining the poetry mentioned above with regards to the speakers. Each of them are living on the edges of several different "worlds." How they reconcile, or do not reconcile, those worlds to form a cohesive identity is my area of interest.