Monday, May 15, 2017

Morethan, after Charles North's "The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight."



One of the many pleasures of teaching a creative writing poetry class is that I get to do the writing exercises/prompts/activities alongside the students. In this assignment, I asked the students to create a poem modelled on Charles North's amazing "The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight," where he assembles an amazing list of comparisons that are entirely and delightfully meaningless.

Smarter than morons are you
Shorter than giants

A student in the class asked me about endings. North's poem (like his comparisons) is deliberately antipoetic and anticlimatic. We talked about different ways to end a poem. With a big finish, a fade out, a twist, a turn, a reaching back to the first line or the title. Thinking about our discussion, as I wrote my realization of my North-derived poem, I turned the ending of the poem—after a listing of mostly ridiculous comparisons—into an occasion of sudden emotion. I also chained my comparisons, which North doesn't do, each comparison linking with the one before it. This, too, came from talking to my students about the poem and different ways to create cohesion, different formal ways to weave a poem together outside of narrative or other techniques.


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