Sunday, August 7, 2011

Matthewsian Invisible Hinge

by Pamela Alexander, p. 147

Write a poem in which some major change (in style or content) occurs across a stanza break. The poem should not explicate or comment on the change; it should rather absorb or reflect it.


The experiment is based on William Matthews's delightful discussion of the genesis of his poem "Merida, 1969" in Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms. ("Invisible hinge" is his phrase.) Across the hinge (or pivot or dovetail joint) "the poem could propose... an implied relationship" between its two parts.

This is a fairly sophisticated assignment that could be perceived as vague or overwhelming to beginning students. Don't try to define the nature of the hinge before starting; instead, allow it to arise from some opportunity presented by a poem underway.

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