DU

Not that I’m on a break now or anything…

…but the peeps that are finished with their semesters, I have finished as well. Finally. As I said, lots and lots and lots (and lots) of research papers. I just might (might, mind you) have a half a handle on the new 8th edition of MLA format at this point. Might.

18582290_10155432990898028_6479972419694655595_nWhat else is on my plate? Well, I presented at the Teaching and Learning With Technology conference over at Front Range yesterday, which was pretty fun. Had a good, inquisitive audience that had more questions afterwards and cornered me at other sessions and stuff too. It was called “Video Killed the Paper Star” and covered a few innovative ways that assigning videos to students in lieu of papers can be a fruitful endeavor. I may do a little mini-article about it here, so stay tuned. Anyway, got to share a bunch of those grammar videos you’ve seen here, and some old reading responses in video form, especially Nate’s old ones from Advanced Stage Combat back in the day. His were so creative and thoughtful and it made me miss all you Stage Combat Club guys: Nate and Scott and Nick and Chris, Paul, and Geri, and the others that came in and out…(sniff)…

I also went to the opera recently with The S.O. and I was amused to find that I knew exactly where all those swords were from, and mused that they all needed a little coaching as far as handling them went (fight scenes though there were none). I also was shocked at the rust that has somehow coated my Schmooze Nozzle, which I guess goes to show that if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I’m polishing my charisma these days. If you run into me, force me to give you an  elevator pitch or something, would ya? Help me get back in shape.

Writing wise, I’m still doing stuff for YourBoulder.com, mainly their weekend round up thingies. It’s a fun gig, and a paid one, so I’m happy about that. The other blog I’m writing with The S.O. is also a very fulfilling project–it’s a style of personal writing I’m not super familiar with, but the pieces there are really, really good. It’s nice to have a quasi-journalling habit again, and him being such a good writer himself, it’s also nice to have a high bar to have to live up to. Write up to. You know what I mean…

Now I do have one breath before the new wave of stuff begins. During that deep breath, I will still be working closely with DU folks on their Capstones, and also working with a new batch of Regis peeps too: Children’s Lit, Editing Fiction, and Editing Non-Fiction is on my platter there.

After I take the breath, it’ll be time for summer at FRCC (two Comp 1 courses) and at Boulder_FringeMetro (an online Staging Cultures class). It’ll also be time for the first summer theatrical gigs to begin: early June I’ll be dancing with Boulder Burlesque, mid-June I may be dancing with Bronze Fox Burlesque, and late June is Denver Comic Con, where I will be presenting The Fight is the Story again, but I’ll keep you up on those things when we get closer to time. After that, I’ve got stage combat at the LDT and burlesque at the Fringe Fest to look forward to, amidst who knows indeed what else will pop up.

So there you go: the update on the workload. Now back to it.

I’m Such a Bad Blogger You Guys

…seriously though, it’s because of my busy life! Wanna hear what I’ve been up to, instead of blogging here?

Well I have been contributing to another blog, under a pen name, with my significant other. Some really great personal memoir type essays, and it’s writing I’m proud of. Not going to share it here publicly, but if you know me well personally, ask me and I’ll give you the link to that.

The FRCC comp 1 students have just handed in their research papers, and the Comp 2 students have just finished their rough drafts of theirs. Topics for these include: Farming, steroid abuse, censorship in music, arts in the schools, the innovation of the electric guitar, police discretion, free speech on college campuses, trans rights and health, immigration, damage of video games and social media on youth, and the cruelty of zoos. Lots of important things, my students are writing about.

My Regis Capstone student is sending me big chunks of her high-Fantasy novel, set in a world where the sun is destructive and there’s all kinds of well written political intrigue and a telepathic power that certain people possess, and really cool ninja-like warriors, and. It’s a good piece, and I can’t wait till it’s published and I can share it with you. I also have seven Capstone students in DU’s seminar course who are entering proposals and getting their big projects nearly to the midterm point. Some really interesting projects there, too.

But. You can see why I haven’t had much time to write here, lovely lurkers.

In performance news, I have performed burlesque for Bronze Fox just this Wednesday, and will be appearing onstage for Boulder Burlesque’s upcoming Spring Fling Kink party. I’m having a heckuva lot of fun doing this particular movement hobby, and if you’re interested in keeping up with that stuff, follow Valkyrie Rose on Facebook.

I’ll write to you again on the other side of grading. When will that be? Who knows…

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The group curtain call at Wednesday’s Nearly 4/20 Bronze Fox Burlesque show. A stellar group.

No Rest For the Weary…

I am just on the exhale end of the one deep breath I had between Spring semesters-and-quarters and what’s coming up for me for Summer. Plus enough personal-life / health complications to drive one to drink (not that I need an excuse)…(not my health, btw, in case you were concerned)…

Front Range ended in an avalanche of research papers, followed by Metro, ending rather the same way but in an online format.

These troublemakers called their course blog World Wide Bromance. From FRCC, Comp I.


DU’s Children’s Lit course just had its conclusive class last night, and it was some illuminating conversation re: Ender’s Game as YA lit (or not), and Harry Potter, censorship, and mythology. Also the importance of instilling the love of reading in young people.

Inspired by the “shelfie” movement, I have been enjoying arranging still lifes including books in use. This from the last day of Children’s Lit at DU.


Regis, as per usual, is all one-on-one and online. I am still working with the children’s author/psychology Capstone project with one student, and facilitating Writing The Novel I with another. Her novel is this great piece of politically-intricate High Fantasy which I’m excited to help her hone.

So, lots going on, right? sorry it’s been a bit, lovely lurkers, but here’s what’s up:

Starting next week, I’ve got a Comp II class at Front Range, which I’m going to attempt to teach under a theme. This summer’s theme is: Creativity and Innovation. This should make for more interesting required reading and still a wide array of topic choices for the students’ research.

The week after, both DU and Metro begin: the latter is another online section of Staging Cultures, which you’ve heard me describe before, and the former is an undergrad course called Art and Interpretation. We’ll be looking at art, looking at how to look at art, and making some art of our own.

Non-university teachings and lecturings and such include my annual panel presentation “The Fight is the Story” over at Denver Comic Con, and the delightful summer dance camp class I do in Longmont each summer, wherein I show young ballerinas how to fake-punch each other in the face.

Finally, there’s the Five 5ths benefit performance at the BPL–this year, it’s the Five 5ths of Labyrinth. I’m in two of the five fifths, and am having a blast while having trouble remembering my lines….


So, that’s about it. Kinda plenty, eh? Oh, you want to know about the personal stuff now? Nope, sorry, that’s confidential (unless you meet up w me in person and buy me a pint. Then we’ll talk)…

Hey. Just checking in…

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The rubric for the research papers for Comp I at FRCC. My notes on grade norming in 3 colors. Being helped by Popcorn. She’s a helpful sort…

So hey, lovely lurkers. What’s happening? Yeah, I’ve been okay. Kinda depressed, very busy…you know, the norm. So how’s it been going? Well that’s good.

It’s coming up on the home stretch in all my classes, which is why I’ve been rather scarce here lately. Since I assign blog posts to my comp students, I feel the lag in my own blog breathing down my sore, tight, stressed-out neck. So here ’tis.

I have a Capstone student at Regis finishing up a combination creative and psychology project, and the two Comp I classes as well as the Comp II class at Front Range are all neck-deep in their research papers. Some interesting topics this semester, including: Syrian refugees in France, the U.S. policy on immigration, psychedelics (also cannabis) as legit medicine for treating/healing mental illness, the dangerous levels of stress school (particularly standardized testing) causes American students, the unfairness of the judicial system, effects of wrongful conviction in court, and whether Hitler was inspired by the Armenian genocide to design his own.

Children’s Literature at DU just had its read-aloud day (for previous online-only class’ read-alouds, have fun on our Vimeo channel), which marks the transition between picture books and novels for this course. The novel list includes classics like Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and Harriet the Spy, as well as perhaps not as well known to a lay-adult books like Bud, not Buddy, Holes, and The Thief, and of course Harry Potter #1 and Ender’s Game. Before you go off on what books I should have included in my reading list, know that I have one book assigned per literary genre (plus two pre-1920), and so had to make some tough decisions. But then you all are called Lovely Lurkers for a reason, aren’t you…

Lastly, I just recorded a session of Left Hand Right Brain with former student JD, which should air sometime in May, so keep your ears (and this blog) peeled.

Now off to go grade some more…..

Yet Another Semester (and Quarter)

…and my musings withal.

This quarter at DU I’m teaching a grad level creative writing course called Fiction Fundamentals. We are putting the “fun” in “da mental.” Or something. So far, I’ve very much enjoyed our discussions about the readings especially, and I can’t wait for our first big workshop!

Front Range started last week, and I’m teaching two Comp I classes and one Comp II class (that last is on Saturday mornings. Ugh.), and they’ve already started their class blogs. Comp I is now embarking on their Mini-Essays (stay tuned here for winning ones), and Comp II is about to be assigned the Elevator Pitch, which is a fun way I like to begin a class all about arguments, all the time.

It’s a lot of bus/light rail commuting (4X/week), so I’ve been listening to podcasts: mainly the Columbo podcast and former student JD’s Left Hand/Right Brain podcast (on which I will appear soon–stay tuned)!

At Regis, I’m doing the one-on-one thing as usual: this session it’s a Developing Character course, a Travel Writing course, and I’m advising a Creative Capstone as well. At Metro, I’m teaching the online version of Staging Cultures again, which is always fun, as it has a wide and odd array of plays to read.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

The show I’m in, I Miss My MTV, is opening Friday night at the DCPA!! It’s tech week, kids! Will I live? Only if I can find a way to buy more coffee for the household…….

the freshly raised graffiti backdrop of IMMMTV, made by talented tattoo artist Sal Tino.

the freshly raised graffiti backdrop of IMMMTV, made by talented tattoo artist Sal Tino.

Every link rings true

Look, lovely lurkers, I know I very recently made a brilliant and comprehensive Link List post, but I’ll tell ya: I feel the need to post this one for you too, and I’ll tell you why (my reasons are twofold): 

1) I was inspired by my Creativity and Innovation class last night. They had three reading assignments from the past couple weeks under their belts, and I sat them down at the beginning of class and said, “Hey, let’s talk about our readings.” What ensued was a fricking hour and a half of good discussion, of all the readings and then some. I mean…seriously. No blank stares, no “I didn’t do it,” just rich conversation. And they also made connections between the readings and previous ones, and with their current assignment. It’s just…really. I throw readings at you and you a) synthesize, and b) engage in stimulating conversation? Wow. That’s college. Or should be, anyway.   

2) I was digging through some archives from the stage combat course at Metro which hasn’t run for the past couple years and rediscovered many excellent resources besides (ahem) my book, which were very worth a re-read. Since so many of you lovely lurkers are new followers, too, you won’t have gotten these from me before. 

So. 

Without further ado: these are all required readings for my stage combat students. Since I have none right now, you all are them. Yer welcome.

Ne’er the Twain: an excellent scholarly musing about the martial and theatrical arts dichotomy.

David Bordwell compares Bond vs. Chan, showing what constitutes a good fight scene in cinema.

Striking Distance is actually a recent article from American Theatre magazine, which deconstructs different flavors of direct and indirect violence onstage.

5 Ways to Fight Like Mamet Writes. The title says it all, methinks.

Oh, and bonus points if you know from where I took the title of this post.

(The below meme was posted by a Metro student on the class blog.)

  

Musings on a New Semester

…and a new quarter, too. As DU is on the quarter system, my two classes for them begin this week. one is an online course called Writing the Short Story, which is a graduate-level writing workshop on, you guessed it: short stories. This is a new one for me, so right now I’m doing the dance of the teacher-as-pirate: deciding what materials to keep from the other professor’s work, what to invent of my own, and how to adapt. It should be fun–the most fulfilling courses I get to teach is when I help students with their creative work. Of course, it’s also the most hard work…

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I found this on my facebook feed, so I have no credit for this image. Wait–do you have to give credit for a meme?

The other DU course I’ve got going on is an on-ground course called Discovering Creative Energies. It’s a course for undergrads (adult learners), about the form and function of creativity: what it is, what it does and means cognitively, etc. Plus we get to keep a journal, which I always love. And need. I don’t do enough creative work on my own without external requirements like this, and even though it’s actually a requirement for my students and not me, I impart the deadlines on myself too. As my Mom always taught me, too: it’s good practice as a teacher to do the generation/output with the students–to model the process as well as be inspiring with her product.

At Metro, I’m riding along in Week 4 of an online class called Staging Cultures, which is an upper-division course for undergrads that centers on diversity in theatre through history. This iteration of the course focuses on colonialism in particular, and how that feeds into the theatrical works of both the conquerors and the conquered. We read a play a week in that class, and most of them were ones I hadn’t read before teaching this for the first time last Fall. Celebrating the brilliant obscure, in many cases.

Finally, at Front Range I’m teaching three (count ’em: 3) sections of Composition I. Beginning essay writing for incoming community college freshmen. Times three. Twice a week. Right now we’re in Week 3, and they just handed in their mini-essays (look for prize-winners here forthwith), and are now beginning Exemplification Essays. Which are essays that center on use of examples for support. Also I know from this class one shouldn’t use “finally” in one’s conclusion as that’s hacky high school writing. That reminds me: I actually have a few high school kids in these classes. So far they’re right up to par with the rest.

Of course, at Regis I’m doing my normal handful of one-on-one writing courses and Capstones. I’ve got a Creative Non-Fiction student this session, which is refreshing as I don’t work in that genre very much.

So.

Yeah.

I’m not picking this semester to quit my addiction to caffeine.

Musings Upon a New Semester

It’s another semester (and quarter), another dollar in my world. Well, I’m hoping it’s a little more than that! Anyway, both DU and Metro began today and I’m looking forward to facilitating learning about performing and visual arts. The class at Metro is an undergraduate course called Intro to Theatre, in which they learn about what theatre is, what goes into making it, what it’s been like across the globe throughout history, and it culminates in them collaborating to make some themselves. This is the class blog, on which will appear the students’ reading responses. http://the2210.blogspot.com/

Showing Intro to Theatre students the ropes at Metro. Literally. 2014.

Showing Intro to Theatre students the ropes at Metro. Literally. 2014.

The DU course is called World Visual and Performance Art. I wish it were called Performing Arts, because Performance Art is a whole ‘nother monster but ah well. This class, when I was first given it to construct from scratch (way back in 2003 or 4), was called Creative Expressions and is meant to cover, well, World Visual and Performing Arts. What visual arts? Yes. What performing arts? uh-huh. What part of the world? The whole fricking world. So I pared it down a touch. I chose three eras that I happen to know the most about myself: the Renaissance in Europe (particularly England), the Belle Epoque in Europe and a little in Asia (particularly France and Russia), and what I call the Age of Aquarius in America (really Postmodernism across the globe). Creative tangents in this class are welcome, and like Intro to Theatre, I make the students do some of the art as well as read and view about it. This is a graduate level course for a Liberal Arts Masters degree. This is the blog I use for it and the undergrad version of it, which only covers visual arts. http://mals4050ca3200.blogspot.com/

I’m looking forward to starting on this semester (as well as continuing my work with characterization in fiction, the art of blogging, and creative capstones at Regis), because I know the material will overlap somewhat with these two as far as curriculum, and I’m hoping to engage the two courses in some dialogue. How 21st-century education is that?   ~Jenn

Recipe For Poetry

This, from my series of lectures from old and/or defunct classes. This is Lecture #7 from DU’s erstwhile Writers on Writing course, and is an introduction to poetry.

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Lecture 7: Recipe for Poetry

Many people of all ages have this crazy idea that poetry is stuffy, difficult, lofty, and way beyond them. They feel that they have to write an “Ode to a Grecian Urn” or understand just how important that little red wagon is in order to attain the vasty height of poem reader-hood. And writing poetry? Forget it, they’re not that “deep.”

In fact, poetry is the oldest and most profound way humans communicate. Song, image, sound, is as old as our upright crania, and as essential to our culture.Greek+vase

To talk about (and to write) poetry (as opposed to prose and story), one needs less a set structure (like a plot) than a recipe. There are three essential “poeia”s which, combined, make poetry what it is. (1) The recipe of three ingredients is as follows:

  1. Phanopoeia       (image)
  2. Melopoeia         (music)
  3. Logopoeia         (intellect)

1.) Phanopoeia

…is the language of image. Rich image is often more important, even supercedes, any narrative in poetry. All five senses are important in poetic image, and often in contemporary poetry you see either collaboration or other combinations of picture and word. There is the literal way to do this (concrete poetry, or additions to visual art, comics, or picture books), but in essence all poems have image at their center. Read this sample of phanopoeia in the first two stanzas of Linda Hogan’s “Bear Fat”:

When the old man rubbed my back

with bear fat

I dreamed the winter horses

had eaten the bark off trees

and the tails of one another.

I slept a hole into my own hunger

that once ate lard and bread

from a skillet seasoned with salt.   (2)

We’ve got the tactile (the feel of the fat and the massage), the visual (the horses and trees), taste and smell (the fried lard-and-bread image), and hearing (horses chewing bark, frying skillet), and this all in the first two stanzas. Notice the blank verse: no strict set meter other than what comes naturally to the English language. What a beginning reader of poetry should “get” out of this is not necessarily what Hogan “meant” by the lines, but the images themselves. Poetry is like mythology, in that every individual reader will take a poem’s images differently, and the images, free of spoon-fed “meaning,” can take on as many meanings as there are imaginative possibilities.

 

2.) Melopoeia

…is the sound of the poem. There may be no meaning or narrative at all to a poem, only sound. The sounds of poetry come directly from poetry’s root: song. Each different sound resonates in the reader’s ear with a different reaction; as different colors resound with different human moods, so do the different vowel sounds and consonant stops. Poets have the poetic license (!) to play with these sounds and their combinations, which is where certain set structures like sonnets and haiku and rhyme schemes come from. A master of melopoeia, Dylan Thomas centered his work all around sound. Here’s the first stanza of “All all and all the dry worlds lever”:

All all and all the dry worlds lever,

Stage of the ice, the solid ocean,

All from the oil, the pound of lava.

City of spring, the governed flower,

Turns in the earth that turns the ashen

Towns around on a wheel of fire.     (3)

Of course the first thing you’ll notice in the difference between poetry and prose is the line  breaks! What are they there for? They do what all punctuation does: they provide a breath break. All commas, periods, dashes, ellipses, and line breaks do this, in different degrees. The line is a breath unit (4)–so Thomas’ commas and periods at the end of his lines make for longer breath pauses. I would recommend reading this particular piece aloud. Loudly. Listen to the repeated gong-notes of the vowels, the “pound of lava” going through the whole piece. Poets make language into a meal (and prose writers can learn a lot from this practice).

 

3.) Logopoeia

…can be better translated into a “dance of ideas.” (5) Stressing intellectual ideas, putting forth ideology and philosophy, poetry has long been a changer of history, as well as a “recycl[er] of a culture’s ruins.” (6) Poetry has been the most powerful protester and cause for many a cultural change. That’s not to say that a beginning reader of poetry should be bogged down by trying to figure out a poem’s “deep profound meaning” each time they read. A good poem should convey its “dance of ideas” through its image and sound selection, and meanings, as discussed above, can be as multifold as a poem’s syllables. Check out the three fractured haiku that make up Jack Collom’s “Indefinite Articles”:

an opinion

is like a moon

in a song

why should a

poem act so tough, it

has no feelings

Everything boils down

to a chunk of Roquefort,

which gets lost.     (7)

The light-hearted jab at poetry “acting tough” is a great thing for beginning readers and writers of poetry to remember: that song is in all of us, and a poem itself isn’t the feelings, the feelings are within us. The image of a moon in a song is a vivid visual and aural one, but why is it Collom’s definition of opinion? The reading of such potent little gems will differ for each person reading it. This is the other big thing about poetry vs. prose: in a poem, the language is condensed, heightened.  Anything said, any image conveyed, any repeated sound, is magnified by virtue of the poem’s line break form and length. This is why magic spells of old were often written in verse: the potency of the word, its actual physical power, was thought of as more powerful in poetry.

But then sometimes all it boils down to is “a chunk of Roquefort, / which gets lost.”

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(1) Ezra Pound’s setup, channeled through Anne Waldman, Naropa University lectures

(2) From The Book of Medicines, Coffee House Press, 1993

(3) From Collected Poems, New Directions, 1957

(4) From Lorna Dee Cervantes, Naropa SWP lecture, 1999

(5) Ezra Pound again, again through Anne Waldman

(6) Steven Taylor, panel discussion, Naropa SWP 1999

(7) From The Task, Baksun Books, 1996

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