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An update from the thirty-first Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday March 12, plus some of the output published below

By popular demand, this week we focused on writing the concept of irony. We began with a few basic definitions of irony: the difference between what something appears to mean versus its literal meaning, the difference between what someone says and what someone meansand the subversion of expectation. We then discussed four different types of irony, beginning with the most common form, dramatic irony, defined as when the reader knows something that a character does not know. Olaf from Frozen, for example, we identified as an example of dramatic irony as he sings about loving summer while we, the audience, know the summer is what will be his demise, an ironic device also found in the form of Ahab in Moby Dick. The second type of irony we discussed was situational irony, defined as when the expected outcome of a situation is reversed. One such example of this was found in The Wizard of Oz, as the four primary characters in search of the great wizard found out his appearance was just a charade, and that the characters had within them what they were searching for all along. We also, of course, talked about Alanis Morrissette's infamous song "Ironic," and changed a few of her unironic lines so that they were actually ironic. The next type of irony we discussed was verbal irony, defined as when a character says the opposite of what they mean, exemplified by Polonius in Hamlet when he says "to thine own self be true," the irony being that Polonius is himself a lier and a con-artist. The final and most complicated type of irony we discussed was formal irony, defined as when a work of art calls attention to itself as a work of art. In order to reinforce this type of irony, we looked at Ron Padgett's poem, "Poem," and the artwork of Jackson Pollock, which calls attention to itself as a painting by representing literal paint on a canvas.

The Participants: Amelia, Penelope, Emma, Sophia, Nova, Gwynne, Lina, Josh, Quinn, Ellie, Samantha, Ethan, Amber, Alice

The Challenge: Write a story, scene, or poem that uses at least one of the four forms of irony discussed.

To watch more readings from this workshop, like Emma's below, click here

Emma Hoff, 9
(Bronx, NY)


Emma Hoff, 9

“You can climb up
the rope,” said Sarah
to Lucy.
And she almost wanted
it to be true because she
meant to say, “I won’t be
able to stand it if you fall
off again.”

Johnny thought he could
get straight As
if he pretended
to be listening while
he was really drawing
his teacher,
but he was caught
after a whole month
of him acting
and was told that report
cards would be given
out in three months
and that he should give up his
whole charade.eds courage to build a school !

Belle’s fish was going
to die, and she didn’t
want her mother to get
rid of it by flushing it
down the toilet,
but the fish died while
Belle was in school,
and Belle’s mother
couldn’t stand looking
at its dead body,
so she disposed of it
and got a new fish
which she claimed was
Belle’s perfectly healthy
“old fish.”

Belle never guessed
and neither would Johnny
have if he hadn’t been told.

And Lucy fell off
the rope  and Sarah ran outside
and cried.

And Sarah read this very
poem and thought about Lucy,
and Lucy read it and thought about Sarah,
and Belle finally guessed
what she would never have
guessed and Johnny remembered.

And Belle’s new fish
swam around until it,
died, but Belle was
guarding it with a pitchfork.

And this poem unspiraled
like a ball of yarn
and stuck to Johnny’s cheek
and made him sulk.

And Lucy pretended to
hug Sarah but slapped
her instead, and Sarah
did some more crying.

And the rope in the gym
sat depressed and sad
and decided that it would
never be climbed again,
and Johnny’s drawings
of the teacher were found
by Sarah, who gave them
to Belle, who gave them
to Lucy, who gave them to
the unclimbable
rope, covered in
post-it notes
and protecting every
last line of poetry
that comedy concocted.


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