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An update from our twentieth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday November 6, plus some of the output published below

After receiving feedback about what students would like to focus on, this week we held workshop on the anatomy of a poem, asking ourselves "What exactly is a poem?". To begin, Conner reinforced the importance of exciting the senses over making sense, defining a poem as something that prioritizes the mode of writing over the written content, that is more concerned with how it sounds than what it says, and whose language is sonic and aesthetic, not narrative. Over the course of the workshop, we read works such as "Pope John" by Bernadette Mayer, "The Snowman" by Wallace Stevens, "My hat" by Henry Parland, "Poem" by Ron Padgett, and, of course, "Mown Lawn" by Lydia Davis. We also briefly discussed Starry Night as a visual representation of the logic of poetry.

The Challenge: Try and imitate the poem "Mown Lawn" by Lydia Davis. That is, take a phrase, any coupling of words, and do to it what Lydia Davis did to the phrase "mown lawn," turning these words into new words via sound.

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


Svitra Rajkumar, 13
(Fremont, CA)

The Earl Bear

Svitra Rajkumar, 14

Just big enough to sit in your palm
The Earl Bear whimpers
It is warm, so warm that it is cold
Pale and gray
Or was it a rich amber?
A shade that you know you’ve seen before
But can’t seem to remember
It smells of cedar and earl gray tea
A mellow scent that races through the quarries
Quarries that hold crippled carp
Gorgeous fish full of imperfections
Sparkling tails and glistening scales
Prey to the Earl Bear and Predators to the Poppy Kelp
Scarlet as fresh blood, the Poppy Kelp sways
Under the current of the quarry.


Ethan Zhang, 9 (Mclean, VA)

The Armpit Monkey

Ethan Zhang, 9

I owned an armpit monkey,
For some reason I hated it.
Maybe because it sounded like
Harm-wit donkey.
Everyone knows I hate harm.
Harm-wit donkey sounds ominous,
Even though harm-wit has no meaning.
Also, an armpit monkey sounds like
A chicken, literally.
It shrieks mad,
Shrieking the word yeet,
Which sounds like yeast,
Something that I also hate.
Yeet also means throwing things,
Something related to harm.
I hate life.
The armpit monkey ruined it.

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