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An update from our sixty-second Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, April 1

The workshop started with Conner showing us four paintings that all involved some element of spring—glee, excitement, flowers, calm, peace, etc. Before we began to read some examples of poetry about spring, we asked ourselves what we think of when we think of spring. We summed up our ideas in a list that included hopefulness, warmth, and brightness. Then we read “After the Winter” by Claude McKay. It incorporated rhyme, imagery, and musical language to convey a feeling of spring. The next poem, “In Just” by E.E. Cummings was similar—it was fast, fun to read, and felt free and excited. We looked at two more spring paintings, both of them very peaceful. This is how most people think of spring. However, the three poems we looked at next were very different. In the first section of “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot called “Burial of the Dead,” April is referred to as “the cruelest month,” while in “In Perpetual Spring” by Amy Gerstler, a garden is portrayed as “a good place to sulk.” In “May” by Jonathan Galassi, there is a disgusting description of rotting leaves. All of these poems describe spring in a negative way—plants sprouting from the ground like zombies, puddles of mud, flowers with thorns. We then listened to twos songs—“Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi, which offers a lively picture of spring, and “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky, which shows a different side of it.

The Challenge: Write a poem about spring.

The Participants: Emma, Amaya, Samarina, Stella, Sarah, Lilian, Rachel, Polina, Aarush, Lucy, Nysa, Anika, Amelia, Daniel, Lindsay, Anushka, Miya, Nathan, Aaron, Yueling, Lina, Eric, Anna, Georgia, Jacey, Alice, Seva, Madeline

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