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An update from our thirty-eighth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, May 21, plus some of the output published below

This week we focused on the literary device of anaphora, meaning a repetition of word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences or poetic lines. From the greek, literally "a carrying back." After reading the opening passage of A Tale of Two Cities, Walt Whitman's "I Sing America," and excerpts from "The Gospel of Mark," T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," Mary Ruefle's "I Remember, I Remember," Allen Ginsberg's "Howl," and MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech, we were able to diagnose what anaphora brings to writing: rhythm through repetition, intensity/tension, energy, emphasis, and speed.

The Challenge: Write a poem or story using anaphora. If you don't know what phrase or word to repeat, you can an example from class: "I Remember," "and," "Blessed are," or "I saw."

The Participants: Emma, Josh, Ellie, Fatehbir, Shiva, Chelsea, Alice, Zar, Lina, Samantha, Anna

To watch all of the readings from this workshop, click here

Emma Hoff, 10
(Bronx, NY)

Things Are Like Onions

Emma Hoff, 10

You see dreams as you pad down the hallway. You see the things in your head. You see monsters bragging they can best Death and monsters lounging around doing nothing. They’re not that scary, now are they? You see your face laughing on a screen. You see a newswoman doing your makeup and your hair and your clothes just so that you can see and hear yourself bray an alarm call. You see a monster that has your face. You see a replacement. You see a reason to go back and a reason to be trapped. You see a river. You see your still done-up face on the screen, drowning in it. You see yourself not being able to swim. You see people holding you down. You see yourself surviving and dying. You see the alarm call that was for you. You see regret and so much fear.

Colors: the whole entire rainbow of things and nouns and words. Colors: big bulky sentences you hold up with your scratched hands. Colors: trees and then lampposts and then that big wooden pole outside your window. Colors: can you see it? Colors: your attitude that races ahead of you. Colors: teachers tell you to control yourself but when you don’t you can grow wings. Colors: your class oohing and ahhing at your talent and you suddenly at the back of the crowd.

I’m reading an author. I’m reading a book. I’m reading an answer to a question I didn’t read. I’m reading the answer sheet for a test and then forgetting it. I’m reading fun. I’m reading paragraphs and paragraphing myself. I’m reading knives for slicing. I’m reading faces and rooms and body language because people tell me to. I’m reading my own writing as I’m writing it because I am reading. I’m reading buttons and codes and all that stuff. I’m reading what you never read.

Why did Sally kill her fish? Why did James stick his finger in the camera when it was about to take a picture? Why did Lulu destroy the pillow? Why did Mary break the glass? Why did Archibald run? Why did Charlie barrel into so many people? Why did Ari ask so many questions? Why did Camila’s limp hand break the glass of her coffin before she was buried?

Things are like bird beaks, sharp. Things are like wine bottle corks, popping out of places you never knew existed. Things are like onions. Things are like walls. Things are like freedom and restraint. Things are like things because everything is a thing and that’s just the thing. Things are like the universe and the planets: we swirl everything together.

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