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An update from our eighteenth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday October 23, plus some of the output published below

In anticipation for Halloween next week, and in conjunction with last week's partial focus on the "monstrous body," this week we focused on the neglected art form of short poems about monsters. Thus, we looked at exclusively literary examples, beginning with "Monsters" by Dorothea Lasky, which offered a change in the typical point of view. We then read a host of other poems ranging from "A Boat" by Richard Brautigan to "A Monster Owl" by Lorine Niedecker to "Theme in Yellow" by Carl Sandberg to "All Hallows" by Louise Glück to "And the Ghosts" by Graham Foust—a haunting one line poem. We finished with a close reading of William Blake's famous poem, "The Tyger".

The Challenge: Two Parts. Part one: in fifteen minutes, write a monster poem. Part two: change the poem line by line by writing each line's exact opposite.

The Participants: Emma, Clara, Josh, Simran, Nova, Lina, Ellie, Audrey, Alice, Olivia, Shilla, Svitra


Emma Hoff, 9
(Bronx, NY)

Monsters (original)

Emma Hoff, 9

Some things crawl,
asking for the mirror,
something to break,
smiling at us,
rosy pink cheeks.

Little cherubs
are us,
winged creatures,
flying through the air,
we flap our wings
and kiss the other
wings.

Other things are obstacles,
they braided my hair,
I braided theirs,
walking and walking along,
tiredly,
as if we had just risen.

Along the path are scissors,
so many combs and brushes,
they rip my hair like a rope,
like a cord.

I took a step away,
eyes blank,
never colored in a book.

Little children
haunt me always,
little birds,
flitting around with wings
of steel and iron,
we call them machines.

Ten days later you wake,
asking others where you were,
they tell you that they were in Hawaii
and did not creep into your space.

I begin to get wet,
other forces are getting together,
drying themselves,
while I,
I am under a mushroom,
bigger than myself
(I am an ant)
and I wished I was sleeping
like you.

I dream of deserts,
you dream of snow,
everyone has a rainbow entering
through a special door.

Nobody ever actually becomes an actor.

They have to wait
for others to come,
to say their words,
I talked to them and they invaded me.

Monsters (flipped)

Things don’t crawl,
they don’t want the mirror,
they do not shatter,
do not smile,
their faces are pale with no color.

We know nothing about cherubs,
falling,
wingless creatures,
we have no wings to flap,
we do not find the other wings.

No obstacles in our way,
and we never braid each other’s hair,
we are lazy,
we never walk,
we always sleep.

No scissors along our path,
no combs,
no brushes,
my hair remains pristine,
never ripped or pulled.

I never had to take a step away,
eyes were always full,
colored, perfectly colored.

I love little children,
birds are gigantic,
they do not flit around on wings,
they do not work mechanically.

You never wake,
you never ask where you have gone,
the others never go anywhere either.

I am dry,
I am alone,
and everything is normal,
I was sleeping,
wished I was running.

We do not dream of anything,
no light,
no color,
can enter through our special doors.

Everyone can act.

We do not have to wait,
do not have to talk,
or listen,
I left unscathed
and healthy.

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