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

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, May 28, plus some of the output published below.

This week, Conner lectured on something he never had before: long sentences, which have become in today's day and age somewhat of a dying art form. To begin, we looked at two paintings: Hieronymus Bosch's Christ in Limbo, which we found to be dark and disturbing, and Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, which we found to be more comedic and prosaic. We then spent five minutes trying to transcribe each of these two hectic paintings, analogous to long sentences, into words. After this short writing exercise, we looked at four examples of long sentences. The first came from Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. We found this sentence to display the speed potential of long sentences by eliminating punctuation and repeating the word "and." The sentence itself was literally a run-on, enacting the running of the horses. The second sentence came from Don Quixote and was somewhat of an anthesis to McCarthy's. It was filled with punctuation and interrupted itself, which produced a sense of self-consciousness. The third sentence came from Italian Hours by Henry James, which we were able to synthesize into one sentence: to dwell in a modern city is to live a double life. The sentence was somewhat of a hybrid between the one from All the Pretty Horses and the one from Don Quixote. The fourth and final sentence was from Blood Meridian, also by Cormac McCarthy. We found this sentence to be somehow short and long at the same time, another hybrid. Ultimately this sentence best represented the long sentence's ability to build upon itself.

The Challenge: Write a poem or story in one long sentence. Don’t worry about whether or not your story or poem makes sense. Only concern yourself with how much you can fit into the writing. Make your sentence as long as possible. See what happens.

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

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

Emma Hoff, 10
(Bronx, NY)

In the Room of Pharaohs, We Meet

Emma Hoff, 10

There were many different countries in the world, and she, he, you, and I knew that, but we would investigate and learn about the world, the universe, the planet, and we would eventually meet in a strange place, the museum, where outside that ominous building the grasses grew tall and had also been sheared short into the gray cement and where there was a fountain, with little gray steps that dared you to climb them, because that was where the little children ran and played in their bathing suits and bare feet; the opening of doors in the night on the other side of the world and the closing of them in the morning stayed in rhythm with the constant laughter emitted by the children, and a couple of businesspeople walked along the streets which matched their prim and perfect suits, but we were not those people, we were from different places and we would all meet in a strange place, the museum, where some briefcases flinched from water droplets and some people bathed in them, where carts selling food wafted their aromas into the faces of innocent passerby and portraits and paintings and photographs created their own museum outside, and smiling faces waited in lines with a few scowling and tired children, or with the happy ones, which scampered around, excited for their turn to climb up the dull-colored steps that led to exotic rooms and echoing chambers and big displays, but we did not have children, we were from different places and we would all meet in a strange place, the museum, and bikes were scary to animals and dogs were scary to daring mountain climbers, and cars skidded along the edges of sidewalks and fences cut you and glared at you, but beyond the fences were trails and flowers and a place to run and dew-soaked hedges and bushes and the crisp air that is humid, warm, and cold, the type you want to walk in forever when you get out of a car, but we did not own any cars, we walked into different places and we would all meet in a strange place, the museum, while looking at Egyptian statues of cats.

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