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in conjunction with the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Do Poets Bring Fear to the Page?

Last Thursday, the Dadisman/Stalnaker writers used the distinct feeling of fright to access suspense, imagery, and sometimes comfort. First, we discussed what’s scary in Morgantown: the hard heart beats of public speaking, unidentifiable roadkill on the PRT tracks (bunnies? squirrels?), a bird stuck in a grate, and football frenzy couch-fire riots. Using Zachary Schomburg’s “Your Limbs Will Be Torn Off in a Farm Accident” and William Stafford’s “Traveling through the Dark,” we decided how poets bring their fears to the page: building syntax, strange imagery, and some sort of release. The writers used Rita Dove’s prompt words (cliff, needle, voice, whir, mother, blackberry, cloud, lick) as starting points to create their own versions of disorder.

Notice how Garrett Hooton captures suspense and tension:

You wake up in your dorm room The morning is still and cold. You sense something different about this day. You disregard this feeling and go about your day. As you’re walking, you notice a faint whirring sound. You look around, and no one seems to be paying attention to it. You turn back around and notice you’re now alone. The group you were following behind is gone. You notice the whirring sound again. This time it’s louder and intensifies with each second. It grows to be all you can hear and you realize it’s the sound of a voice--your mother’s voice--screaming--the sound continues to grow. It is now a horrifying shriek. It stops. You look around, still alone, still calm and cold, but day has become night. Pitch black darkness. You woke up in your dorm room. The morning is still and cold.

Notice how Alexis NoƩ uses questions to access the surreal:

This place is mine. These are my things. Why is it still so strange? The carpet is a soothing blackberry color, very soft and comfortable. My bed, yes my bed, is like a cloud. So why is everything still so wrong? Everything is in its place, yet nothing has a place.

The lights flick off. The darkness is like a needle in my eye for a moment. It is so instant. My loss of sight causes me to listen closely. What is that whir sound over there? Or was it an echo from the hallway? Could it be someone’s voice?

I gather my thoughts and calm myself. This is silly. As my vision slowly returns, I venture across the blackberry sea and climb up the edge of the cliff to my fluffy cloud bed. I gaze into dark and see it all. Everything that is wrong. It will be another restless night ahead.

Notice how Jonathan Serino brings rhyme to the streets:

The moon was shining on the street
Shining with all her might
Glowing through the clouds
To illuminate the fight.

A whisper came and went but
No ear would hear the word
And as he slowly closed the gap, came a sound;
a quicked whir.

Two minutes time then all was still
Lest for his nervous tick
And to the blackberry colored blade
He gave a single, sickly lick.

Notice how Jamie Winter captures the senses and finds comfort:

I feel like I’m falling off a cliff;
with pins and needles in my arms and legs.

There is a whir in the background;
sounds like home.

My mother’s voice calling me;
I hear.

I’m startled,
I feel like I’m lying on a cloud.
The smell of blackberries enters my nose;
I lick my lips.

When I lick my lips;
I awaken.

My mother has made me breakfast.

Join us Wednesday, Nov. 7 for more freewrite fun!

1 comment:

  1. Christina,

    This was wonderful! Thanks for sharing.