As a junior I have been producing stories in my various directing and screenwriting classes for my Film Production major. However, it has been awhile since I’ve attempted any poetry and not written in any screenplay format. As I grew up and learned how to write, I often composed short stories in my journals. I came up with characters and world through my imagination. In middle school and high school I remember writing short stories often a couple poems, but it had been awhile coming into this class. When we broke out into groups to share our first poems, my nervousness went away. I realized that each student’s poems gave unique glimpses into how other people see and perceive the world around them. Writing the first poem, I was surprised how if I just let my brain flow, the words would come right out. One thing I have learned most is how to focus on a solid through-line in my writing. Giving a core message or theme to whatever piece it is that I’m working on. I’ve gained strengths from this class that I hope to carry on in my screenwriting and filmmaking career. Seeing how I am also and english minor, I will definitely be using the techniques I’ve learned in class for all of my future writing.
This Land is Dead This Land is Alive
this grass is dead the trees are dancing
the bushes cut the flowers blossom
these roots broken these colors extravagant
growth has been shut life has been awesome
no matter the water no matter the smells
no matter the soil no matter the thrills
this land has been stripped this land is growing
and left in turmoil amongst wide open hills
forget this place and don’t come back remember this place, and come back
it’s dead it’s alive
this land is dead this land is alive
After reading the various poems by Dickinson, Williams and Armantrout on poets.org I got a clear sense of the kind of structure I could go for. I wanted to create something impactful, and have many separate stanzas in it. I started pulling my thoughts together by sitting on memorial lawn on campus. The grass was dead and their was landscaping going on. I then walked around and imagined myself as the only real thing existing. I was able to separate myself from the world and look at things from a new perspective. I knew my poem was finished once I could find a sentence to end on that directly connected to the main title “This Land is Dead”. When we did the workshop, most students’ poems were lighthearted or inspirational. Everyone was surprised when mine took a dark and despairing turn, but I liked that it was very different from the others that people shared. Most of the comments or suggestions people had were that the poem made them feel sad and helpless, which is what I wanted. They also said I should extend the poem more, and expand more of the visual language potential. I learned in the workshop that people in this setting of showing each other their work tend to be very open and helpful. A lot of ideas I have for my second draft stemmed from student’s comments, next time I want to ask for even more suggestions.
Finding My Voice.
Of all the poets, I found Rae Armantrout’s form of writing to most interesting to me. Especially with her poem “Negotiations”, she very carefully structures the sections of oh her writing. I like how she only uses 3-4 lines before indenting a space between each section. Each word is very powerful, and the lines she singles out hit me hard as a reader. In her poem “Lie” she uses the spaces between each statement. “I’d like to hold these”, then she goes to the next line with “in reserve”. She then clearly separates this statement with the next “Protect our identity” by using a “2” between the lines. I attempted to “imitate” her form of writing in my own poem “”This Land is Dead”. I separate each thought I write down, and leave single worded lines where its necessary, like how I separated “lifeless” from the rest of the lines in that stanza.
this grass is dead
the bushes cut
these roots broken
growth has been shut
I’ve never gone out of my way to read a lot of poetry out there, most of my experience comes from the classroom. From what teachers exposed me to, I know that I am particularly fond of some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman.
Their writing is always profound, deep, and feels very personal. I like when I feel my own emotions overwhelming me through each visual description or comparison that I read. Poetry can sometimes tell its own short story, or just describe a situation in the moment. I like when poems have a sort of rhythm to them, even if they don’t rhyme. I also believe that some of the most powerful poems can be the shorter ones. When I’ve tried to write poetry, I think a lot about structure and having a connection between the opening words and the last. I listen to a lot of music, and even though I’m not reading them, the lyrics of songs I hear are very poetic most of the time. If I like a song enough, I’ll google the lyrics and read them for inspiration.
This story follows a brother and sister relationship from their early stages of childhood to adulthood. As they grow up before the reader’s eyes, they face the challenges of a broken family. The shape of my story is very much based on the classic “Man in Hole” structure. The story starts off with Leo (10) and his older sister Nicki (13) playing pretend in their living room. Suddenly their life is changed when their parents break the news of their decision to divorce. Leo’s character is the most emotionally effected and as he grows up in the family he faces more challenges that make his life seem more miserable. Ultimately, the rise up to a normal happy life again doesn’t happen gradually. In a final scene, Leo is 18 and his sister is now 23. They end up in the same playroom from the beginning. As they are unpacking boxes, they connect. Laura thought she could graduate and live independently from her parents, Leo thought he could keep things going with his girlfriend. Laura explains how people come and go, and you can’t really plan your future. They realize they will always have each other; it’s unconditional love.
Le Guin expresses that repetition is a tool, that it is not redundancy but more foreshadowing. Seeing on the other hand attempts repetition to push language boundaries.
Stein’s main argument is that nothing is really original. Storytellers just take facts and shape it through our own way of creative writing. “Everybody is telling the story in the same way. But if you listen carefully, you will see that not all the story is the same.” Individuals have specific ways they write, and their own personal expressions will come out in their stories. Our rhetoric as authors is a pure result of our environment we live in, the people we surround ourselves with, our own personal experiences etc. To Stein there really is no such thing as repetition. Some things may seem repetitive, but really there is a difference. This difference is the uniqueness of the individual writing, not always the words themselves, but how they use those words.
Le Guin’s approach to repition is more in support of its conventions. Le Guin says it can enhance the qualities of a story, claiming at as “an exercise in awareness”. She argues that it can give us more insight on a character. Stein is much more strict with her opinions on repetition. Stein sees truth in everything. and that no matter what we try to do, our words will always be unique to who we, the authors, are. She makes repetition almost un-producable and non-existent. Le Guin contrasts this, seeing at as a very usable tool. Repetition in her mind can bring out a natural rhythm. By manipulating words and sounds into repetition, you make them that much more special. She sees the technical aspects of repetition as necessary for structure, employing it in your work is something you consciously do yourself, where as Stein basically says it is out of our control. I would have to side with Le Guin here.
People’s physical quirks are very funny. I was sitting in the Piazza observing people’s conversations. I looked over at a group of guys approach some girls at a table who were selling something. One guy constantly touched and scratched his right arm while talking. I saw this as a very interesting quirk, it showed nervousness and hesitancy. He probably expresses this movement in similar situations.
Speech Patterns stand out a lot, especially after talking to my closest friends for a long time. When things get argumentative, I notice repetition a lot. My one friend always begins his statements with “here’s the thing” or “actually though”. He could easily continue his conversation fine without using these statements, but he uses them anyways.
One of my friends from Minnesota has the tiniest hint of an accent. When he says the word “bag” he pronounces the A very strongly. When every he says sorry, he emphasizes the O, and it sounds like “Sooorey”. Also the word fine, like he says like “fowine”. My friends and i always call him out on it.
Sam is Frodo Baggins’ gardener. He inherited this position after his father.
Family members and/or significant others:
After his family passed away he devoted his life to Frodo Baggins. He refers to him as “Mr. Frodo”, he is his best friend.
Extremely loyal, loves nature and is fond of fantastical stories of elves and the outside world.
Character history (where is he/she from?):
He has grown up in The Shire all his life and never ventured far from the area where he lives.
Highest level of education:
Unlike most hobbits he is completely literate after learning from Frodo and Bilbo.
He is a somewhat more plump hobbit than Frodo. He is average hobbit height.
His love for all living things and his companionship with Frodo. He would die for him. He also dreams to one day have a family with Rosie, a female hobbit.
Losing his friend would take a lot of purpose away from his life. Also losing The Shire is a big fear that motivates him to journey to Mordor.
Things he/she likes:
He loves flowers and plants alike. He loves adventurous stories about Middle Earth and its inhabitants. He also loves food, specifically bacon. Aside from his compassion for Frodo, he has a big crush on a local hobbit named Rosie.
Things he/she dislikes:
He dislikes the evil in the world, especially once the One Ring lands in Frodo’s possession. He dislikes chaos and when things are out of his control. He doesn’t like Frodo setting out on his own and is afraid of loosing him.
At first, Sam is revealed to be the gardener of bag-end. But as the story unfolds, he is revealed to be eavesdropping during Gandalf’s conversation with Frodo about the One-Ring and the evil of Sauron. Gandalf hears a noise from the garden and pulls Sam out from his hiding spot behind the window where he should have been “gardening”. Gandalf knows that Sam has a kind heart and didn’t intend to walk in on their conversation. As a sort of consequence for his actions, Gandalf chooses Sam to be Frodo’s main companion on his trip to Rivendell to seek answers.
I really love Samwise because he lives up to a lot of the ideals I hold personally. He is one of the most loyal characters ever written. At one point, when Frodo is at his weakest, Sam himself carries his friend up the mountain so he can complete his journey. Tolkien is one of my all time favorite writers, not only for the epic world he created, but for the intimate details and descriptions he uses. In high school, after watching the trilogy of films directed by Peter Jackson, I immediately picked up the books and read them to get more from the characters and the world Tolkien built. After revisiting the stories again and again, I’ve concluded that my favorite character in the series is Sam.
When I attempt to write a script or even a class paper, I always begin the creative process by researching what I plan to write about. From that, I take what interested me, and what I feel I can elaborate on. I am a “big picture” thinker, so it is difficult for me to simply starting writing from the beginning of the script/paper. Once I’ve researched what I’m writing about, I create an outline. For stories, I consider locations and characters’ actions. I also develop various character arcs and the general themes/tones I want in my story. Once I have this path drawn out, I can begin to add smaller details like dialogue and descriptions to take up the bulk of the story. For class papers, I try to build a solid backbone to my argument or point I am making. I also follow the classic five- part structure; Intro and Thesis, then Proofs, Refutes, and a Conclusion. For whatever I write, I always have a couple peers ora family member read over what I’ve created. At the end of writing, I try to find a way to connect the beginning to the end,for example ‘book-ending”. This is important to me because I feel that it gives my writing a purpose when the4 beginning ties in to the end.