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Our "environmentally-friendly" "poem"

Anne Dalke's picture

At the end of class today, (re-directed somewhat by Zoe!) I asked each of you to write--in the mode that Andrew Goatley describes as an "environmentally friendly alternative to goal-directed grammar" --a description of "what was happening," just then, in the room. Here is what we wrote, and then read to one another (it gives me shivers!):

Talking takes place.
Contemplation and thinking are happening around.
The desks are in a circle.
Shining through the windows.
Silent thinking.
Thinking continues.
Air is moving and responding.
Writing and thinking are happening.
Thought happens. Written words voiced in speech.
Thinking in peace.
Pensively gaze, frown, then scribble.
Pens are rustling.
Mental contortion.
Beings pulsating in peacefulness.
A conversation is going on.

I now want to bring this (lovely, really lovely!) production of ours back into conversation with wanhong's provocative post about the difficulty of describing motion without matter. She reports that--although the discussion in her high school physics class was guided by the motto that "motion is eternal while stability is relative"--every time they studied motion, they diagrammed it using dots or squares to represent the object in motion.

Stepping off from that insight…how might we diagram this poem?
Are there objects (in motion) in it?
(Are they us, or our thoughts?)
And how might they be represented?

Looking forward to seeing a few more visualizations...



Sarah Cunningham's picture

molecules, synapses, and poetry

Re-reading the poem several times, the only moving objects I can detect are the air molecules ("air is moving and responding") and the brain cells (implied in all the "thoughts" and "thinking", slightly more explicit in the "mental contortion"). The desks are stationary. The "beings" (us) are, well, being; i.e. they/we are processes more than they are objects. The pens are moving, it's true; but they are really much more a part of a process, than centrally significant in themselves. But, the paradox is that the significant movement is almost entirely mental; and I guess what makes the poem a poem, is the tension between the sense of physical stillness in the room, and the intensity of the mental activity.