May 12 Final Portfolio

Dear class,

This has been such an excellent semester. I really look forward to reading your final portfolios.

Don’t forget, on May 8, we have a few more CWL events. 10:30 a.m. in O’Shaughnessy, come by for a multimedia reading of poetry and other short works. And, at 1 p.m., we’ll have the senior book showcase in Fogelson.

Now, onto the Final Portfolio Requirements!

Your final portfolios are due to me NO LATER than 5 p.m., Friday, May 12. This is the last hour of the last day of finals week and grades are due the following week. Accordingly, I will not be accepting any late work. You may either email or turn in hard copy of your portfolio. Please be advised I will respond if you send by email to confirm receipt. If I don’t, I didn’t receive it. No extensions will be granted due to technological mishaps.

FINAL PORTFOLIO COMPONENTS:

  1. Self-interview portfolio statement. DETAILS BELOW.
  2. First internal essay, workshop version and revised version
  3. Reported/external essay, workshop version and revised version
  4. Lyric essay, workshop version and revised version

 

SELF-INTERVIEW PORTFOLIO STATEMENT

In lieu of a regular-old portfolio statement, I thought a hermit-crab-style portfolio statement seemed more fun. We will be using the “self-interview” style, such as that for the Daniel Nester piece I had you read. The Nervous Breakdown has self-interviews on a regular basis, so you can also check out other ones if you want. Please format them as TNB does.

For your self-interview, please ask yourself seven questions. I am assigning the general topic of six of them, but you are responsible for phrasing the question and, of course, responding to it. Here they are:

  1. This is a question about your internal essay that discusses the revisions you undertook.
  2. This is a question about your external essay that discusses the revisions you undertook.
  3. This is a question about your lyric essay that discusses the revisions you undertook.
  4. This is a question about the area of craft in creative nonfiction that you consider your strength.
  5. This is a question about the area of craft in creative nonfiction that you consider your weakness.
  6. This is a question about one of the essays you read this semester that had an influence on how you think about your work and creative nonfiction in general.
  7. This is a question you made up yourself about any topic that has some connection to the work you read or wrote this semester.
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May 5: Our last class

It’s our last class and we have lots to do.

We’ll be workshopping Amaya, Alison, Maddy, Brantlee and Felicia’s lyric essays. Please use the lyric essay critique sheet and remember you will be turning in a copy to me.

Here is the online link to Maddy’s piece.

Your final portfolios are due to me no later than 5 p.m., Friday, May 12. Because this is the final day of finals week and grades are due the following week, I will not be accepting any late work. So don’t turn it in late because I will not accept it. (Yes, that was a redundant sentence, but I want to be clear).

You can turn in your work via email or drop hard copy at my office. If you email your work, I will respond to let you know I received it. If you don’t hear from me, I did not receive it. I will not grant exceptions to the deadline for technological reasons (like, “my robot ate my homework”).

You are, of course, welcome and encouraged to contact me at any time prior to that if you have questions. This has been (from my perspective) a really enjoyable semester with all of you. Thank you for your hard work, talent and bravery in the classroom. You rocked it.

Final Portfolio Components:

  1. Self-interview portfolio statement. See details here.
  2. First internal essay, workshop version and revised version
  3. Reported/external essay, workshop version and revised version
  4. Lyric essay, workshop version and revised version

Assignments for April 28

Your only homework is to critique for the lyric essay workshop. Time permitting, we will also have an in-class writing assignment, but you do not need to do any advance reading for it. The rest of the lyric essay manuscripts (Felicia, Brantlee, Alison, Maddy, Amaya) are due in class for distribution.

Lyric Essay Workshop for Kim, Ana Stina, Salem, Chantelle

Please use the following criteria to provide written critique: one for each writer; one for Julia. As always, you can use the criteria as a worksheet or you can write a more organic response that acknowledges the requested elements.

Lyric Essay Critique Criteria (download hard copy here)

  1. What observations can you provide regarding the structural choices of this piece. Is it flash nonfiction? Is it a prose poem? A hermit crab essay? And in what ways does the structure serve the piece? How might the scaffold be strengthened (or even changed) to greater enhance the piece? For example, for flash pieces, do they contain the compression and urgency often associated with the form? If a hermit crab essay, does the appropriated form have a relationship with content that creates a transaction we can discuss?
  2.  Please discuss the poetic/lyric elements of the piece. This may include observations about language, syntax, rhyme scheme etc. Please be as specific as possible in offering observations of how/if poetic elements are present in the piece and how/if they might be used more/differently/less etc.

3. Please discuss the “assaying” elements of the piece. What idea, event, emotions is it “about” and how does it explore its core? How might its central occupations be enhanced or clarified, if necessary? Please discuss at least one question/idea/problem you observe at play in this piece, as well as the associations this piece may make.

4. Please include observations about other CNF techniques at play in this piece, such as: description, character, scene, point of view. Are there elements that are working particularly well? Are there some you believe would strengthen the piece?

5. Provide any other responses to this piece—personal, thematic, cerebral—as you see fit.

 

 

 

Assignments for April 21

We will finish any critiques for the reported personal essay if we do not complete on April 14.

Four lyric essays due in class for workshop on April 28. Names to be added here based on decisions in class April 14: Kim, Ana Stina, Salem, Chantelle

Please read “The Lyric Essay as Time Machine.” We will be doing the final “coin argument” essay. I realize you are not beginning writers, so if you really want to do the advanced exercise that requires writing a verse sonnet and removing enjambments, you also will have that option.

Please also read for discussion: Reported Poem, Lyric Truth: Some Inquiries into Documentary Poetry

Excerpt from Daniel Nester’s Shader

Self-interview with Daniel Nester

Assignments for April 14

External Essay Workshop:

Chantelle, Maddy, Salem, Ana Stina, Kim, Brantlee

Critique Criteria for External Essay (critiques due in class, one for Julia; one for the author):

  1. What is this piece about, and what is it about?
  1. Discuss the structural basis for the piece and offer any observations or suggestions.
  1. Creative nonfiction employs a variety of techniques. Consider the follow types of techniques and offer observations for places in which the piece effectively employs them, and places that could be enhanced:
  • sensory imagery
  • characterization
  • scene and summary
  • voice
  • syntax, diction and other elements of writing
  1. Author Leslie Jamison has said that “…one of the central imperatives of combining personal material with history or criticism or reportage: Each thread must do some work that isn’t being done by another; that can’t be done by another.”

Considering Jamison’s maxim, discuss the “work” being done by the reportage elements of the piece.

  1. On a less philosophical note, are there aspects of the reportage that could be enhanced or clarified?
  1. Please offer any additional observations, reflections or thoughts on the writing.

Assignments for April 7

Words for Thought:

“Keep typing until it turns into writing.”—David Carr

 

Reminder: We will not be meeting March 31.

April 7: Reported nonfiction workshop for Alison, Felicia, Brantlee, Amaya

Critique criteria here and below. As before, you are welcome to use this critique sheet, or to simply write a critical response that addresses the criteria in any way you see fit. These are due in class: one to the writer; one to me.

In-class writing: Rather than use Now Write! exercises this week, I will instead be giving you an oulipo exercise at the start of class. And yes, I will be explaining (or reminding those of you who did these in the Lyric Essay class) what this means.

Critique Criteria for External Essay:

  1. What is this piece about, and what is it about?
  1. Discuss the structural basis for the piece and offer any observations or suggestions.
  1. Creative nonfiction employs a variety of techniques. Consider the follow types of techniques and offer observations for places in which the piece effectively employs them, and places that could be enhanced:
  • sensory imagery
  • characterization
  • scene and summary
  • voice
  • syntax, diction and other elements of writing
  1. Author Leslie Jamison has said that “…one of the central imperatives of combining personal material with history or criticism or reportage: Each thread must do some work that isn’t being done by another; that can’t be done by another.”

Considering Jamison’s maxim, discuss the “work” being done by the reportage elements of the piece.

  1. On a less philosophical note, are there aspects of the reportage that could be enhanced or clarified?
  1. Please offer any additional observations, reflections or thoughts on the writing.

 

 

 

 

 

March 24 Assignments

Words for thought:

“What would you say if I told you about an essay that looks like a local phonebook? Or an eBay auction? Or a Google map? Or a college syllabus? Or a Harvard outline? Or a final exam? Or a Trivial Pursuit card? Or a doctor’s pain scale? Or a series of contributors’ notes?

You might be interested even before reading a word. That’s one of the easy appeals of writing in borrowed forms: people who’re used to the defaults perk up when they see something different.” —Patrick Madden, “Finding a Form Before a Form Finds You,” —TriQuarterly

Due in class:

All manuscripts for the reported essay/ external essay are due in class for the upcoming two weeks’ workshops. Please bring a copy for each class member and one for me. Criteria for critique will be discussed in class.

These essays should be four to eight pages long and incorporate some element of external reportage (research, observation, interviews). They can be literary journalism, reported personal essay, art criticism or some other type of hybrid as you see fit. These do not have to be straight reported stories; they should just be rooted in some sort of external investigation.

Reported Essay Workshops:

April 5: Alison, Felicia, Brantlee, Amaya

April 12: Chantelle, Maddy, Salem, Ana Stina, Kim

Meanwhile…

Reading for class on March 24:

We will have an in-class writing assignment from Now Write! Judith Kitchen’s “Worth 1,000 Words” (page 81). Please note, this prompt requires a photograph. Please bring the photo you are using to class (you can bring it in digital form if necessary).

As we are not meeting March 31 and will have two weeks of writing workshops afterward, on March 24 we will begin reading into our next unit on lyric essay.

Readings for class, with critical response paper due in class:

Please note: your critical response papers are not required to acknowledge or focus on all the readings. However, you are required to read all the readings. Some of these are not very long.

Bodies of Text: On the Lyric Essay by Amy Bonnaffons

Finding a Form Before a Form Finds You by Patrick Madden

Desirae Matherly, “Final: Comprehensive, Roughly” (Fourth Genre, 2007)

Discovering the (W)hole Story: On Fragments, Narrative, and Identity in the Embodied Essay by Chelsey Clammer

Index for “Bi the book” by Chelsey Clammer

Excerpt from The Book of Beginnings and Endings by Jenny Boully

Jenny Boully: An Interview in Questions from Her Books