Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Robert Frost and his Enlightening World


Finally we will be looking at the poet of the week! This week we are going to look at a modern poet.
Can you guess who? Give up?

It is
Robert Frost.

You may have heard of him one time or another, however this time we are going to get more of an idea of who he really was! Obviously, he was a poet, however like many poets there is so much more to know about them and their world of writing.
He was born in San Fransisco in 1874 and lived in Massachusetts. His first poem was called, “My Butterfly: An Elegy,” which was published when he was only 20 years old.
In 1912, he moved to England and continued to write poetry. Along the way he met other great writers who provided him with much encouragement to take his writing into a higher level and to have them more recognized amongst the public. As one may know, he did not fail! He won two Pulitzer Prizes and continued to attain fame with his poetry, many that showed and reflected a negative impact amongst the readers.
Frost died in January 1963, leaving behind many pieces of poetry that are learned in classrooms or are merely read for sheer pleasure.
Stepping away from Frost and his life, we can contemplate what poets think about when pencil and paper are at hand.
Considering Frost had a rather difficult yet successful life along the way, do you think that his poetry reflected his personal life? Or could it coincidently reflect your own? An interesting exercise to put together while reading poetry is to question yourself about the piece that is being read. Especially with Frost's work.

This week, read a few of Frost's poetry and see what you think. Soon we will be studying one of his poems more carefully by applying more broad and general questions towards his writing.

Read more!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A trip into John Keats's words...

Hey everyone!

It is finally time to look at a poem by our poet of the week, John Keats. We will take a sneak peak into Keats’s detailed and structured imagination and words in, ‘Ode to Psyche.’
Before we begin, let us try to figure out who Psyche is:

Greek Mythology has it that Psyche was the goddess of behavior. Aphrodite was of course jealous of Psyche’s beauty and decided to send her son Eros, shoot an arrow at her that would make her fall in love with an ugly, unsuitable man for her rank. Yet, like many Greek Mythology there is a turning point, Eros falls in love with Psyche. As for the rest of the story, I will let you look deeper into it and its meaning...
For the meantime we understand that Keats’s intention was to praise Psyche in his poem.

Take a few moments to read the poem and before looking at my understanding about it, write what you think it means. After you have written a list of everything that you thought, you can can check to see if we had similar ideas, after all a poem never has a ‘correct’ answer; it is only how you perceive it to be.

So put on your thinking hats and let us get started into the world of John Keats.

In the first line of the poem, Keats starts his readers off by


this shows us who he is writing about and discreetly describes who Psyche is, without directly stating it.
In the first stanza he questions himself if it was Psyche he saw,

‘Surely I drem’d to-day, or did I see
The wingèd Psyche with awaken'd eyes?’

A question whether his vision was a dream or reality strikes us all. He continues his adventure in a forest coming upon,

‘Two fair creature, couchèd side by side.’

Suddenly, nature imagery clearly creates an intense picture of what the speaker sees. The beauty of nature is associated to love:

‘They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
Their arms embracèd, and their pinions too;
Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoinèd by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love.’

Through this apparition, we connect Psyche to beauty that was created through love and nature.
We then come upon color imagery, which will intensify what we see:

‘Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian.’

We come across the second question that we are hoping to find out:
‘But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
His Psyche true!’

We, along with the narrator wonder if it was Psyche who he saw amongst the two creatures; leaving that question behind our aching heads we continue craving for more words.

John Keats allows the protagonist of the poem to continue to go deeper in his dreamy world, his readers soon fall through:

‘O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,’

Soon we encounter repetition:

‘When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
Holy the air, the water, and the fire;’

When we think of holy we think of divine, this could be what he considers Psyche to be. Repetition in a poem, clarifies an important value to the word. As the narrator begins to feel uplifted and happier of his encounter he begins to sing,

‘I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.’

Again, holy aspects are envisioned from his eyes,

‘Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.
Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane’

We experience more nature imagery as we go deeper into the forest and his imagination.

Once we fall upon the last line we find,

‘To let the warm Love in!’

Reading this we go back and relate Psyche once again as a love symbol throughout his imaginative thoughts. Notice that in the poem there is the mention of Psyche only twice, yet her name could have been merely replaced by ‘Love,’ considering it has been placed with a capital ‘L’ in the last line.

All of these ideas were something to think about, yet I am also interested to hear what you thought about ‘Ode to Psyche’ and what the narrator’s vivid and exciting words meant to you…

Read more!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Poet of the Week


This week's poet of the week will be John Keats, who was born October 31, 1795. He was a well known 'poets of the English Romantic movement.' He is known for many of his Odes: 'To Melancholy,' 'To a Grecian Urn,' 'To Psyche,' and 'To Autumn.' An ode is simply defined as, 'a lyric poem.' Keats takes the time to define each subject in his poem by praising them through intense and provocative language. He creates a clear vision of his thoughts and imagination.
Keats wrote many poems that are learned and studied in school today. Although he died at the tender age of 25, on February 23, 1821, he read many books that widened his imagination to the great beyond, hence helping us see further into our thoughts through his writings.

We will be looking and studying one of his odes this week, so check out the blog again before the end of this week!

Read more!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Follow-Up to Nesreen and Bruce's Visit to Writopia Lab

Hi all,

After hearing Nesreen (an Iraqi teacher/peace activist) speak to us about her recent, upsetting experiences in Baghdad, many of you have asked how you can help individual Iraqis or even help end the war. Bruce, Nesreen's NYC-based colleague (also a teacher/activist) just emailed me some suggestions. Thank you Bruce! I have pasted that list below.

Meanwhile some thoughts: My Iraqi penpal, a young doctor living in Baghdad, believes that "The US started this mess, so it should help get Iraq out of this mess." I asked if he has always felt that way; he said no. "Basically, people change their minds often on this issue here. But this is what I believe right now." Bruce, on the other hand, passionately believes that the U.S. should leave Iraq as soon as possible. And, naturally, many Iraqis agree with him.

So what is an aspiring activist to do? Different groups of researchers/activists offer various suggestions. You can begin by checking out the various resources that Bruce brings to our attention, and by doing some research on your own, says Bruce.


· Call your congress person 1-800-828-0498 (Call 1-888-VOTE-SMART to find out who your congress person is).

· Go to the United For Peace and Justice website ( ) and click on END THE WAR ON IRAQ in the left column. They have plenty of things for you to do.

· March in the next Bring The Troops Home Now event.

· Go to the American Friends Service Committee site ( ) and click on the Take Action button. There are a few ways you can help with both dollars and signatures. Subscribe to their newsletter and stay informed about what others are doing to help.

· Stay informed. Spend 10 minutes searching the internet for “help iraqis.” Use different words each time…”aid Iraqis”, “life in Baghdad today," etc...

· Read about the UN work in Iraq (and support them with dollars if you can).

· Volunteer with the UFPJ to work to get the troops home now.

· Contact Iraq Veterans Against the War and/or Military Families Speak Out and ask them if they need your help.

· Bring your friends and family to the Eyes Wide Open exhibit on Staten Island Tuesday Aug 6.

· Start a discussion group of your friends to try and figure out the best way for you and your friends to help the Iraqi people. There are actually millions of Iraqis in Jordan and Syria who have no homes, live in tents, and would welcome donations of food and clothing and money.

Read more!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

New blogger!

Hey everyone,

I am a new writer for the blog.
I will be posting up a review of a poem every week, however if anyone has any other ideas to blog about, I would love to hear from you.

I will have a poem review posted really soon!

Read more!

Friday, August 3, 2007

My Favorite Writing Exercise and my favorite place in NYC

One of my favorite writing exercises is to pick five people I know and combine them into one person by taking five aspects from them. For example let's say one person is from Texas, then my character would be from Texas. If another person has blonde hair, than my character would be from Texas and has blonde hair. If the third person was a vegetarian, then my character would be from Texas with blonde hair and was a vegetarian. And so on...

I really like using this exercise because sometimes I find that it is really difficult to create a whole new character from stratch, and by taking bits and pieces from people around me it's a lot easier to create a realistic character.

One of my favorite places in New York City is Central Park. To me, Central Park is a very calm place that lets me think peacefully because it is so very different from most places in New York City. It is very beautiful with water and trees and I really love going there.

Read more!