An update from the thirty-fourth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett
A summary of the workshop held on Saturday April 23, plus some of the output published below
After the success we had discussing objects back in the fall session of 2021, we once again turned our focus to these strange, almost alien things. And yes, objects are strange! To begin we looked at a shovel—yes, a shovel—because as it turns out Marcel Duchamp considered the shovel odd enough that he put one up in a museum. Next, we looked at some of the artworks from an exhibit by Katarina Kamprani, wherein she slightly transformed ordinary household objects—a hammer, a knife, for example—into unusable things, the idea being that the exhibit invites us to consider how strange objects are. We then discussed a few paintings—Still Life with Skull by Cezanne, Violin and Candlestick by Georges Braque, and Sunflowers by Van Gogh, to name a few, all of which presented objects in a distorted, alienating light. From our discussion of paintings we moved into a discussion of poetry, beginning with Wallace Stevens’ strange poem “Anecdote of the Jar,” in which the central object, a jar, seemed to transform itself and its surroundings with its strangeness. We also read “Perception of an Object Costs” by Emily Dickinson, which suggested that by perceiving an object, the object somehow eludes us and escapes our perception, two poems by Gertrude Stein—”A Box” and “Mildred’s Umbrella”—and “The Crystal” by Clark Coolidge, all of which elucidated the transformation of perception that can occur when closely examining an object.
The Challenge: First, choose an object either near you or imagined. Then, 1) write a funny poem/story about your object, 2) write a scary poem/story about your object, &/0r 3) write a sad poem/story about your object.
The Participants: Emma, Alice, Ellie, Samantha, Fatehbir, Josh