A Poetry Workshop MOOC – Week 3

The course is fun (see previous post on the topic), I’m sailing through the theoretical part and learn a lot. I’m seeing poetry with different eyes and my admiration for poets has grown immensely.

The practical aspect of the course, however, leaves me in despair. All too often, I hardly unerstand what the prompt is. The forums do help, but not much since there is little feedback. I’m not going to post my offerings there. I’m torturing you, my friends, you’re kind.

This weeks topic was metaphors and similes. The prompts were to write a conceit and to develop a focused image system. Oh my…

That’s what a metaphor does; through its collision of two different things, it creates something more flavorful, more vivid, more rich.

Douglas Kearney, California Institute of Arts,

This course is challenging me big time. I have no idea if I even come close. Here’s the conceit: A conceit is like an extended metaphor, but it argues for the metaphor itself.

Image by ds_30 on Pixabay
Your love for me is like an onion

My angry words cut into your skin.
I’m slicing and dicing and
Your sharp aura of indifference
—Feigned, I hope—
Brings tears to my eyes.

The spice you bring into my life
—Like an onion to my food—
Is purging its blandness
And worth the tears.

The outer layers, 
Shrivelled from protecting what’s inside
Are peeled away in hopes to find within 
A fresh new spring of love
And not a rotten core.

I’m always welcoming constructive feedback.

The second prompt Is ‘One of us, one of us: all figures of speech refer to a general thematic unity

Image by Alex Kuimov on Pixabay
Summer Days

Air shimmering in the heat.
Bright white light dimmed orange by closed eyelids.
Red skin, rows of boiled lobsters;
The smell of sunscreen in the air.

Cooling off of heated limbs 
Amidst glistening reflections on the lake.
Blue-green beams illuminate its depth
As I dive. I’m guided by the light.

Goose-pimples smoothed by
Towels warmed from sun-baked soil.
Relaxing and refuelling my energy. It’s
My place in the sun

This is wishful thinking because this year, summer doesn’t want to come. It’s cold and rainy, which is good for nature, but less so for my mood. I’m not asking for heat but a bit of sunshine and a bit higher temperatures would be nice (right now it’s 10 degrees Celsius outside).

Stay tuned, three more weeks.

9 thoughts on “A Poetry Workshop MOOC – Week 3

  1. Your first poem is lovely. It does just what you say it should – gives you something more flavourful, vivid and rich. It’s beautiful and quite disconcerting. It’s a violent image in which one person is exploiting another. But whoever said poetry has to be ethical!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, Penny. You know, I was so worked up over the form (I’m still not certain if I argued the metaphor enough for a conceit) that I didn’t pay all that much attention to the different meanings.
      I just had a troubled relationship in mind but I see that it can be read the way you see it.


  2. I’m enjoying this course too but dashing through it probably too quickly! I think the videos are the best bit (the tutor is great!) and, like the potential illuminating clash and contrasts of a metaphor, the wonderful videos show up the deficiencies in other aspects of doing an online course…in an actual class there would be more discussion around the theory and also the exercises. In the absence of an actual class I think we could have more example poems to help with the theory. An old fashioned reading list would help, but I guess students and private study/reading don’t go together quite as they used to. The prompts could definitely be more supported.
    On the other hand I’ve just critiqued a couple of poems from week 3 and I’d say don’t worry too much if something exactly fits the prompt. Some responses did and some didn’t! Writing something is what’s important.
    Your love for me…definitely fits the conceit prompt I’d say. The One of Us prompt I interpreted more as using one image again and again as a metaphor. So not just a Summer’s day but maybe more explicitly the weather as a metaphor for your mood. I’m not sure you make the metaphoric comparison clear in the second poem.
    I’m only dong one prompt each time. I actually think each prompt of the pair is pretty similar and two are there to give a quick choice (ie a bit of a psychology trick!).
    The love/onion poem is great on lots of levels. A very unconventional metaphor for love for a start. The you/me also creates a bit of a puzzle. Between the onion and the knife, the sliced and the slicer this is a very ambiguous relationship in my reading of this!
    Good luck with Week 4. I’ve been writing a piece (hardly a poem) using just the vowel ‘a’ only and any other consonants….Cats and mats feature strongly! It really is that rash, banal, crass, trashy, scratchy, dashed, bashed…And so far I haven’t even managed to squeeze in the word taramasalata.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, week 4 sounds ‘fun’… Thank you for your great comment. I enjoy the videos, too.
      Part of the problem, I think, is that the courses are ongoing. You just do your stuff when you feel like it and hope to find a few people to interact with. But that wasn’t always like MOOCs on Coursera were–I don’t know how they do it on the other platforms these days.
      Before I started this blog, I did several courses, one of them on academic writing. They had dates set: course starts May 20th and lasts for 12 weeks or so. Then you sign up and start at the start date. During that time you can go back to the videos, but you have set dates for the tasks and you have a large group of people doing it at the same time. And that helps find study-buddies. You can’t rush ahead either because the vids and tasks won’t be available. And there were mentors, quite a few of them and always there. And very committed. I know, because I was one of them in the following course.
      In that course, Google hangouts were the thing and many study groups met through hangouts. I didn’t have the technical equipment at the time and also wanted privacy, so I just asked on the forum for a ‘online study group’ without the hangouts. Several people wanted to do that, too and so we read each others assignments, critiqued as much as we could–and were regularly visited by a mentor who answered questions.
      It was great, I was hooked on MOOCs since then.
      When I just want to study something theoretical, like history or so, I don’t mind the ongoing courses. But with a workshop/writing course you want to participate. It is more challenging, and keeps you going more steadily if it has a set date. It probably takes more organizing, too, and I guess that’s why they stopped doing it. This course would need the interaction and not just one or two answers per post and it would also need more and faster mentor interaction. As it is it is more of a showcase for people’s poems.
      I like to do both prompts, because I hardly understand what it is I’m supposed to do and find out–or don’t–while I’m going. I’ll certainly rewrite the one-of-us just for the fun of it. For the critique task I think I’ll submit the conceit.
      And yes, more examples and a reading list would help big time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right. Just for completeness’ sake I’m posting the text here (had to look it up, my English…)

      Two Lighthouses
      from North by Gem Andrews

      Adapted from a poem by Julia Darling.
      Two Lighthouses

      I would like us to live like two lighthouses
      at the mouth of a river, each with her own lamp.

      We could see each other across the water,
      which would be dangerous, and uncrossable.

      I could watch your shape, your warm shadow,
      moving in the upper rooms. We would have jokes.

      Jokes that were only ours, signs and secrets,
      flares on birthdays, a rocket at Christmas.

      Clouds would be cities, we would look for omens,
      and learn the impossible language of birds.

      We would meet, of course, in cinemas, cafes,
      but then, we would return to our towers,

      knowing the other was the light on the water,
      a beam of alignment. It would never be broken.

      Julia Darling
      from ‘Apology for Absence’
      from North, released May 11, 2020
      Arranged by Tim Dalling.

      Liked by 1 person

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