Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mickey Pfarr: Journal 4

Part One:

For chapter eight, it's really hard to pinpoint a specific thing I really liked. This was probably my favorite chapter. He says on page 76 that "I came to one Italy in 1944 and another in 1963. The 1963 Italy was filled with sparkling fountains [and] shiny little cars that honked and darted through well-kept streets[.] [...] The 1944 Italy I remembered brown and gray and lifeless. [...] I hate to admit it, but that was the Italy I wanted to find. I fell in love with a sad land, and wanted it sad one more time" (Hugo 76). I thought this was really important, because I believe it's important for a writer to write with their experiences, and then sit on it for a bit. There's a bigger impact that way. I believe the impact was bigger with the "before" and "after" Italy.

In chapter nine, what really stuck out to me was the comparison between the "there" and "here." The factory vs. the university. To me, it was important because it shows that life in academia isn't what some may seem, especially for someone who is in the English/Literature/Creative Writing department. There's a lot of stigma, as he says on page 101: "Here: I've been named the head of a student dope ring. A student informant tells the administration I've advised students to print and distribute copies of a "dirty poem" about the campus. I am a homosexual. I am a merciless womanizer. I throw wild parties. I write my poems in Italian and then translate them into English. I come to class dressed in dirty, torn T-shirts. I am a liberal, a reactionary, a communist, a Nazi." (Hugo 101). We who dwindle in art (not even art in word-form, but theatre and other visual art as well) get a lot of crap thrown our way, and then people have the gall to ask us when we're going to work in the "real world" or get a "real job."

Part Two:

Being someone who has done multiple workshops both in high school and in college before, I can honestly say that they're my favorite part of any creative writing class. As a critic, I'm (still) learning how to give feedback without being too English teacher-y. I try to avoid using a red pen so the grammar Nazi doesn't gain any power. I'm also just too nice sometimes. It's hard to tell where that line between too nice and too brutal resides. That being said, I always adore the feedback I get. Even if it's something small and insignificant, I take it into consideration and apply it towards my work. There may be some cases where the critic didn't understand, or is too harsh, but it's still pretty important to give even the most brutal of workshop responses at least a little bit of attention, because there is always something to be gained. I personally believe that workshops should be in a lot of other English classes, because students can gain so much more insight from a whole group of people, rather than just one professor who has seen countless numbers of similar papers or works. Fresh eyes are always important.

Word count: 536

Journal 4 by Andrea Daily

Part 1: There were a lot of ideas in Chapter Eight “Ci Vediamo” that struck me as important, but my favorite was on page 76. “The 1944 Italy I remembered brown and gray and lifeless.” This kind of took me by surprise because when I think of Italy I think of a bright, happy city filled with lots of people. “The 1963 Italy was filled with sparkling fountains, shiny little cars that honked and darted through well-kept streets, energetic young men and beautiful, well-dressed young women, huge neon signs that said CIT and COMPARI and CINZANO in bright blue or red or green.” When I hear Italy, this is what I think of. I think this is what a lot of Americans think of when they hear Italy, but to Hugo it meant war, but he also fell in love with it. “I hate to admit it, but that was the Italy I wanted to find. I fell in love with a sad land, and I wanted it sad one more time.” I really liked how he wanted to go back to the place he visited his first time and he wanted it to be the exact same way as when he had first visited.
The idea that struck me as most valuable in Chapter 9, "How Poets Make A Living". On page 101, "in some ways the university is a far more real world than business." Hugo is dealing with people at the University who are passionate about poetry and respect him for his poetry. In business, people don't care that Hugo is a poet and some of them hate him for it. "When teaching well I'm making love to a room of people." People care about his passion for poetry and I think that's great.
Part 2: I’ve learned quite a lot from my first two workshops. At first, I was a little nervous to share my poem because I didn’t know what people would think and I personally don’t think I’m the best at writing poems. It felt great when people said good things about my poem, but I also really liked it when people told me what I needed to work on. I also found it very helpful because it has helped me become a better writer and also gives me some perspective on what other people thought. I personally found it very difficult to criticize other people’s poems because I’m new at writing poems and haven’t had much experience with it. I really liked everyone’s poems in my class. I thought they were all very creative and it was hard to criticize it and find something that needed work. I felt like we all learned something new about one another. I really found the workshops beneficial and helpful.

Journal #4 Jeremiah Ramey

The idea that struck me the most in chapter 8 was that this trip was important to Hugo, and he had no idea why. Italy served to be the setting of one of the most important times of his life. It only seems natural to come back. The scene that hit me the most was at the very end of the chapter when Vincenzo said " Of all the Americans here during the war, you're the only one who ever returned." This shocked me more than the fact that both men started crying uncontrollably. I understand that many want to forget the war, but only one man returned to that hotel? I can't imagine never revisiting such an important setting as a wartime Italy. I liked Hugo's  final comment in this chapter "I still wasn't sure why I'd come back, but I felt it must be the most important reason in the world." That feeling must have been strong to make a poet at such a loss for words.

Chapter 9 threw me off a bit. Hugo seems to jump from idea to idea. I thought it was interesting how he began and ended this chapter. He starts this chapter by talking about how real college is. I can relate to his dislike of the phrase "The real world" As a college student, I work nearly 20 hours a week, spend 17 hours in classrooms, and find time to do the work outside of class. Last semester I tried working 30 hours a week. Forgive me whenever I roll my eyes when you tell me that these are the easiest or the best years of my life. I refuse to accept that as my fate, especially when someone says my best years are spent in youth. I also noticed an irony in Hugo's comments this chapter. While pointing out the hardships that college students endure he says "I've seen people so forlorn that I've sat there praying as only an unreligious man can pray that I don't say something wrong, that I can spare their feelings..." In the second to last sentence of the book, Hugo says "Some of us hope that before we do(go into the dark) we have been honest enough to scream back at the fates." How exactly does a nonreligious man accomplish that? His attitude remains the same throughout this chapter, resembling a hippie-like rebellious attitude.

I enjoyed the workshop experience. I liked how I was able to get a reader response to see what truly are the strong points and weak points of my poem. I liked how I was compared to J.R. R. Tolkien during the workshop. If people are still reading and watching movies based on your book in 1937, you did something right. That comment made my day.

I enjoyed critiquing poems, as well as disagreeing with my classmates as we judged them. If everyone thinks a poem is good, talking about it gets boring. It's also useful to provide people with diverse feedback so that they don't simply change their poem because something wasn't liked by one guy. When I was righting down notes for my own poem I wrote a question mark by every change that I considered. I only made one decision to change the poem on the spot, and that was just to capitalize one word. I look forward to looking over my poem and improving it.

Journal Four: Morgan DeWitt

Part one: Chapter 8 of The Triggering Town, “Ci Vediamo” tells the story of something I will never truly understand or experience. Hugo tells his experience with war in a different way than I’ve ever heard it told.
The experience of Hugo’s that touched me the most was his story about Spinazzola, both when he was there and later when he went back to the visit. The moment he describes is almost so surreal it’s hard to put yourself in his shoes. How he went so quickly from worrying about getting back to not caring at all about anything.  It was so beautifully described how he just removed himself from all the chaos, “I didn’t care about the war. I was not a part of it anymore. Trucks went by and I didn’t even turn to watch them, let alone thumb a ride. Let them go. I would sit here forever and watch and I would not go home, ever.” (84). It’s an experience that’s almost unexplainable and you feel how important and monumental this moment in the grass was to Hugo, even after he comes back to visit. The fact that he didn’t show his wife this specific spot in Spinazozola when he usually would share intimate spots with her just adds to how important and unexplainable this moment in his life was. I feel like this feeling is best explained by his quote, “It was there and long ago something, important only to me, had really happened. Whatever it was, I didn’t accept completely the psychoanalyst’s explanation of it. It obviously had much truth to it, but it was maybe too pat. Whatever, by now I was old enough to know explanations are usually wrong. We never quite understand and we can’t quite explain.” (87). He experienced something unexplainable that he could not even completely share with his wife. This left me deep in thought, how one moment in your life can never leave you and how important it was to Hugo.
Also in this chapter Hugo did something that’s naturally hard for almost all humans do and that’s admitting their flaws.  Hugo wrote, “I must confess to a preserve side of self. I give and give to beggars, but there is in something that feeds on the now of things. Of course I want it all better, want poverty gone forever from the world. But I also have the urge to say “Stay destitute three more days, just until I finish my poem.” I’m ashamed of that in me.” I honestly look up to Hugo in his ability to share and admit to what he’s ashamed of in himself. It’s a quality that I want to have myself so that I can improve myself everyday.
Chapter 9 on the other hand was very personal to me because I dream of someday becoming an English professor. His quote, “As a person, I simply like teaching in a university better than working in an aircraft factory. Here, I am close to poetry’s only consistent audience. I like students because they are not far removed from being children, and that is a bond between us. What adult would dream of writing a poem? And teaching gives me a personal satisfaction no other job did.” (109). After reading this part of chapter 8 I feel like I'm on the right path and Hugo is a role model of mine now.

Part two:
I’ve learned so much from doing the workshops, I’ve really enjoyed them! I learned a lot from the criticism and praise on what people get from my poem and what I can work on to make it better. It was really interesting to hear what people thought certain things meant and symbolized within my poem.
As a critic, it was challenging to pick out things each poet can improve on because I feel like poetry can be whatever you want it to be. It was fun and interesting to be able to read other students poetry and I feel like I know each person in the class better as a writer.Thank you to everyone who helped me improve my poem!
I can’t wait to do more! 

Word Count: 677

Journal 4: Dani

Part 1:
The idea that struck me the most was the memory that Hugo shared on page 79 when he talks about dropping his gun on accident in the plaza square.  As someone who has never been touched by war, I can't possibly relate to how those Italians felt during the war, but at the same time, I can get an understanding.  To an American kid, a gun could be fascinating and you would want to see more of it to understand it.  But to those Italian kids, that gun meant war and pain.  It was a cruel reminder of the world they lived in and how hard things were for them.  Hugo hadn't meant to drop the gun, but when he did, he had cleared that small plaza almost instantly. It's funny how something we Americans took for granted others couldn't and that's a lesson that gets repeated throughout history.  It's a sad and depressing lesson, but one we don't seem to learn from.

In chapter 9, the idea that stood out the most to me was how Hugo used something like the eviction of The Admiral and his wife to write a poem (pg. 104).  The idea behind Hugo's entire book is all about what triggers you and that's so very true.  There are times where I am listening to a song and I start imagining a totally different story for that song with characters that I don't know the names of.  I have used pieces of conversation to spark ideas and even feelings I get when I go somewhere to get an even better pool of ideas to pull from.  Hugo goes on to say that no matter what job you take, nothing will modify or destroy the impulse you get to write (pg. 109).  The idea I get from that is no matter where you are, if you have a passion to write, you should do it.  There isn't anything holding you back, except yourself, and you are your own worst critic.

Part 2:
I really loved doing the workshops.  It gave me a chance to get to know my classmates a little better and even catch a glimpse into the way their lives have been shaped with the language they provided.  I really didn't like criticizing others work because I have been known to me "mean", but the workshop helped me with that and gave me an idea on how I can be more constructive.

I really enjoyed hearing everyone speak their poems aloud because it gave me a better sense as to what they were trying to convey in the poem.  As someone who received praise, it was nice to know that my sense of humor isn't lost on others.  I tend to have a very dry sense of humor and I think it's important that as a writer, you leave a little piece of yourself in your works.  Hearing the criticism from everyone else was refreshing too.  I wasn't honestly expecting to get the warm reception I did get, but I was ready for the criticism more.  But the way they criticized my work wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I know I said that I have a thick skin when it comes to my writing, but there are still times where I get self-conscious and fear the "negativity" I will get.  I'm fairly certain that's part of the human condition and there's nothing that can really change it.  So I am hoping that with the workshops, I can ease up a little with my self-doubts and not worry so much as to how everyone will receive my work.  As long as it's not too personal, I know that my thoughts and feelings will be understood and I hopefully won't need to elaborate too much on the meanings of things.

Word count: 640

Journal 4 - Sam

Part One

In Chapter 8, “Ci Vediamo,” I got from it that it’s important to write about your past experiences and to sit on them for a bit. I could tell that Hugo really cared about the experiences and that he needed to find those areas in Italy so that he could get closure. I thought it was really cool that he was even able to find the spot in the field in Italy again. “I saw it just for a moment as we sped by in the car and I didn’t ask the driver to stop,” (Hugo 86). It was interesting to me that he didn’t feel the need to stop in the field. When I was reading it, I was expecting for him to sit back in that field and write a poem right there. He honestly surprised me with his decision to not say anything. It was enough for him to see that spot and it seemed like he needed time to get his thoughts together before he could write. I really like that you don’t have to think of something on the spot. You can wait and let the words form on their own, you don’t have to force them.

In Chapter 9, “How Poets Make a Living,” I thought it was really interesting that he said “To be a poet you must live with an intensity five times, nay a hundred times more furiously than that of those about you,” (Hugo 100). I thought that was important to a poet to be able to live more than others, otherwise, the poet may not have much to write about. At the very least, they will have more interesting stories to tell if they live life to the fullest. Often times, when I think of the stereotypical poet, I think of someone who is a recluse and never leaves their house. Hugo is saying to break that thought and live life the opposite.

Part Two

I have learned that it’s really hard to criticize others work. I never want to be the bad guy and say something mean. But I think it is really helpful to the author to hear what others think would work better. I also learned that it’s not as scary as it seems to have other people read what I have written. Normally, I refuse to let other people read what I have written because I have an irrational fear that they will make fun of me and tell me how awful of a writer I am. Even though that has never happened, I think of the worst case scenario. However, these workshops are helping me get over that fear! It really isn’t that scary to have someone read your work, it’s actually a really fun experience. I did like having people tell me the good and bad on my poem. It helps me to see what I need to work on and what I have done that works well. I will take those comments into consideration when I revise my poem. I want my work to be something that people understand and enjoy, and I think being able to hear feedback from other writers in the same boat is really helpful.

Word Count: 541

Journal 4 - Devon

There were a lot of things that interested me in this chapter. I thought it was very interesting how the author used his experiences in this chapter. I liked how he added his own experiences in this chapter. It showed me more of how much we really use the things that we know in our own poetry. I like how he is honest in this chapter. He talked about how he wrote a poem miserably.  He even acknowledged the mistakes that he had me. He had said “ I wouldn’t even spell Spinazzola right , and my editor wouldn’t even catch it. “ I think that is very important in this book that he does that. I think that often times we think that we are the best writers out there but in reality we are not. We all make mistakes. I like how he turned to writing to try to do justice for the war.  I liked that. I think it showed one of the many ways that writing can be helpful. I thought he wrote the poem about the war to serve as more of an outlet for his feelings.
In chapter nine I thought a major theme was how senses matter a lot when you are a poet. On page 100 he wrote “The senses are most keen and receptive at such a time. Do the same if possible in the evening, sending your soul from your wrist like a Merlin hawk to fly to the stars, or to ride upon the wind or shiver in the rain above the housetops.” He was talking about taking walks in this line and the importance of them. I feel as a writer that you have to use senses to make a poem good. A lot of people want something that they feel they are a part of. If you describe something in dull details, then you may never have a big audience. If you use your senses really well you can capture so many people. I think that taking walks is something good. You never know what you might see when you go out. You may see a bird, you may see a homeless man , or you may just see the trees but the important thing is that you are seeing something. Sometimes all it takes is something little to spark an idea.  I also like how he had written a poem about the plant eviction and it ended up becoming very popular. I thought that this showed that sometimes things go at a slower pace.

Part 2
I learned a lot during the workshops. I learned that being a critic is not always easy. I learned that sometimes you just accidentally stumble onto things after you read the poem a few times. I would read a poem once but then I would go back and find something new. I learned how confusing a poem could be if you were not clear about who the speak was.

I learned that my own poem will need revision. I learned that if I would use more figurative language the poem would be stronger. I learned that I need to watch the way that I use some of the line breaks. I did good at conveying a tone in my poem.  I need to work on the language that I use and make sure that it is as strong and clear as I possibly can make it. 

578 words. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Journal Four: Kristen

Part One: Hugo

In Chapter Eight, "Ci Vediamo" I thought this was my favorite chapter because there story Hugo told was so real. As I was reading this chapter I could vision everything he was saying. On page 76, "The 1944 Italy I remembered brown and gray and lifeless." I really like the idea that he starts out by saying this because as a reader, we think of Italy being this amazing place to visit,full of life and color. I like how he begain to tell his story about why it is. I think it was important to share his stories that he had because one thing he did very well in this chapter was add detail. I also think he sparked a light in the readers mind. When he was talking about Italy I think he made the reader more interested in this place.

In Chapter Nine, "How Poets Make a Living", I thought the most valuable piece of information was on page 100, rule number two. "You much regulate your life as strict as a religious devotee." I thought this was very valuable because he proceeds to say, "You must keep a strict eye on your health. Live healthy." I think this is important because this is something that helps poets be the best writers they can be!

Part Two: Workshop

I have learned a lot from doing workshops in class. I really like how we take the time to read everyone's poem and all give feedback. It's nice to hear what other people think about my writing. I also liked how the writer read his/her own poem before we discussed it. I think it helped put the poems into a better perspective if we didn't know exactly what the speaker's feelings were. I think it can be sometimes hard to be a critic for other people's poem because I think that's what special about creative writing is the writer's creativity. I hate to be a critic  for someone else's work because obviously they wrote it for a reason. With that being said, I think it is helpful to read their work and give options on what the reader would do because that's who is either going to like it or not like it. I think it was very helpful though to have feedback because in my poem for example, I really didn't think about adding details in the first half of my letter poem. I learned that I should have put more details in my poem about my uncle and I should have made it clear that he was killed in an unexpected car accident. Those were important details I missed and I think if I would have added those details, my poem would have been even stronger than it was. I also like giving positive feedback because as a writer, it's very helpful to know what parts or stages of writing you're doing good at. I thought it was interesting how creative our class really was as far as language, the stanzas that were chosen and also the topics. I love reading everyone's poem because I think it betters me as a writer because maybe things I didn't think about before was in someone else's poem. Down the road if I ever think about writing, those are some ideas that can later on help me. I also loved how we got to choose our own poem we wanted to discuss. There were some poems over the couple weeks that we wrote and I were not happy with how they turned out. I think it was helpful that we were the ones who got to choose the poems we wanted to use. It was good to read all the poems over the weekend also because it gave me time to really think about the writer's poem more than just quickly pointing things out on the spot. I liked taking my time and actually being able to fully read their poem. I think that was an important part of our workshops because it's not useful to the writer when readers are quickly judging the poem. Since we had time, I could fully understand what the speaker was trying to say or also think of questions to ask. I'm really excited and looking forward to future workshops with the class because I feel like we really got a feel for what we are suppose to be doing and I think it will help because now I know what my readers are looking for or expecting to read when I write future writings. Thanks again for spending time and reading my letter poem! It really helped me out!

Word Count: 555

Journal Four Anthony Fernandez

Part One:

Of the ideas presented in chapter 8, it was his comment of page 76 where he comments on beggars. It seemed like a cold-hearted thing to say whether or not it was true. That said, after looking at it for a while, it makes sense. After all, what is the subject of a decent and moving poem when your muse goes from sad and destitute to happy and carefree. You could still do something with it, but it would probably not end well.

As for chapter 9, I found the most interesting part to be was on page 101 when he commented on how the business and university views of his job where a bit different from each other. As a guy whose worked a job and gone to school at the same time for years now, I can understand what he is going through to an extent. It's hard to be accepted by all around you. At best, all you can do is be happy with yourself.

Part Two:

As a critic, it was really hard to do it right. The guidelines of the workshops meant that I had to look at everyone’s poems and write what I liked and what could use some work. For all intents and purposes and without really hesitating in the least, I can honestly say that the second part of those guidelines was what really got me. You see, while there were plenty of times where something was seriously wrong, at least to me, and I had no trouble saying that, most of the poems I wound up reading were really very good and I couldn’t see anything wrong with them. Jeremiah’s poem is a perfect example of this. To me, it seemed like it was practically flawless, complete with excellent word choices and wonderfully balanced rhythm throughout the entire poem. To write constructive criticism about it, and all the others for that matter, I had to be like those nutty people you see on YouTube videos who see the tiniest of mistakes as an outrage and an utter failure to do anything good. That said, there were still times where certain things in the poems did not seem to add up or they were well done in the wrong place or wrong poem all together. At the end of the day, it did feel like all the bad things that I felt about the poems were more my personal feelings about it, which often times seemed to not be shared by the other critics in the class.
                In terms of being a person who was praised and criticized for my work, I had mixed feelings. When they were praising my work, it felt really good. In most aspects, the poem I had created was one of those that I was just rattling of the first thing that I could think of that had deep emotion in it. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the class, especially the teacher, thought that the language was very creative and brought very pronounced pictures to mind. That being said, most of the criticisms that I got were primarily centered around the same thing: What was the poem about? It was a perfectly understandable feeling. After all, when I wrote it, I knew exactly who Socks was. I had had him as a pet for years and he had been special to me. When I handed in the poem, I knew most people would probably not be able to figure that Socks was a cat, but that did not matter to me since it was special to me and in the end that’s all that matters. Honestly though, the early prototypes of the poem had me using the name of dog I used to have to, but I took it out knowing that just having Sock’s name in the poem was already enough to make people scratch their heads as it is. Besides all that, I didn’t purposely make every line capitalized at the beginning. That was just how the computer did it and I thought it looked nice enough to leave it be.

FYI this is 518 words.