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Where a Poem Belongs is Here (Guest Post)

by Paul Janezcko

I didn’t start out to be a poet. I started out as a kid in New Jersey, who had two major goals in life: 1) to survive one more year of delivering newspapers without being attacked by Wink, the one-eyed, slobbering, crazed cur that lurked in the forsythia bushes at the top of the hill; and 2) to become more than a weak-hitting, third-string catcher on our sorry Little League team. I failed at both.

I didn’t do much better in school, where I played the part of an affable kid who endured uncountable hours in a desk that was designed, I was convinced, in a 15th-centry Spanish dungeon. Poetry meant no more to me than 1066, George Washington’s wooden teeth, or the chief export of the Belgian Congo, which was, I still recall, flax. The only times I was gifted was on Christmas and my birthday.  Read more

A Writerly Life: Wisdom from Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Author’s Corner: Dianne Salerni

We are thrilled to introduce a new series to our blog site—The Author’s Corner. We are so fortunate to have so many PAWLP friends and fellows who are authors willing to share their writing processes with us and our readers. For our first entry in our Author’s Corner, please welcome Dianne Salerni. . . 

Six Stages of Accepting Editorial Feedback

By Dianne Salerni

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who hyperventilates when an email with feedback turns up in my in-box. It might be from a critique partner, a trusted beta reader, or feedback won in a contest from someone you don’t even know. Further down the road, it might be from your agent, or an official revision letter from the editor who acquired your book.
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From the Classroom: Second Draft Reading

by Tricia Ebarvia

As I walk around the room, I notice students talking—generally enthusiastically—about the book we are reading. They have a few discussion questions on a handout to take notes, which they dutifully fill out. What I don’t notice are any books open on their desks. In fact, I see many students with no books out at all, and what books are out are closed on their desks.

“Mrs. Ebarvia, do you know remember what Piggy said to Jack when they went to Castle Rock?”

“Sure, I remember.”

Pause. Expectant looks.

“You know, you could open your book to find out,” I suggest. My students smile and begin searching their books.

Years ago, when I first read Kelly Gallagher’s Deeper Reading during the PAWLP summer institute, one particular section that stood out to me was the chapter on “Deepening Comprehension through Second-Draft Reading.” In this chapter, Gallagher emphasizes the importance of getting students to go back to the text to reread:

Students need to return to the text to help them overcome their initial confusion, to work through the unfamiliarity of the work, to move beyond the literal, and to free up cognitive space for higher-level thinking. They need both a “down” reading draft to comprehend the basics and an “up” reading draft to explore the meaning. (80)

Those who have been teaching English long enough know that getting students to go back to the text can often be a difficult task. Having gotten the “jist” of the story on their first reading, students often see no need to go back to the text unless prompted.

Yet we also know that rereading is one of the first steps towards a deeper understanding of a text. When students reread, they can better appreciate craft—they can see the choices that an author made and question why. When a text is complex and students don’t “get it” the first time, rereading is not only a valuable but necessary move that students can make.

So how do we encourage students to go back to the text—to explore the text a second, or even third time?  Read more

Celebrate with Poetry! Plus a Treasure Chest of Poetry Books

by Lynne R. Dorfman

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. 
~W.H. Auden

It is sometimes hard to define something, even when we feel we know it fairly well. Emily Dickinson, once confided in a letter, “If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.”   We might offer these ideas: Poetry is a story, the painting of a scene, a thought, a small moment in time. The trouble is that most dictionary definitions of poetry are dry, limiting, and vague; and so we are left scratching our heads.  What, then, is this magical writing that has such power and range, capable of ever-renewing our spirits? Read more

A Writerly Life: Wisdom from W. H. Auden

Auden (2)