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An update from our sixtieth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, March 18

Conner began by asking the question, “What is the purpose of language?” Some of the answers were to communicate and to represent or describe things. Throughout the workshop, we learned more about what language is really meant for, especially in stories and poems. The presentation started with some traditional examples of tongue twisters, such as “she sells seashells by the seashore” and “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” Next, we began to look at examples of tongue twisters in literature. The three examples we read were “A Mown Lawn” by Lydia Davis, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, and “The Chaos” by Gerard Nolst Trenité. “A Mown Lawn,” a work of flash fiction, played with the words “mown lawn,” rearranging letters and making readers think of the term in a completely different way. “Jabberwocky,” Conner told us, is a poem “obsessed with language,” paying attention to the sounds of the words rather than what they meant, even incorporating some made up words. “The Chaos” uses many different elements of poetry, such as rhyme and assonance, and is about the English language itself, explaining the many contradicting rules and finally informing the reader to “give it up.” We concluded that there are many differences between the tongue twisters we looked at earlier and these three pieces. The latter are actually somewhat harder to read, and “the point is the sounds, not the words.” 

The Challenge: Write a story using the techniques found in tongue twisters.

The Participants: Emma, Ava, Stella, Sarah, Catherine, Lucy, Katelyn, Anushka, Aarush, Amaya, Yueling, Arjun, Georgia, Madeline, Lina, Josh, Seva, Ananya, Samarina

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