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Wednesday, April 5, 2017


I got theses in my last essay from my students that took the form: "these two poems are both similar and different from each other."  Not explaining or even mentioning what these differences happen to be.  They had to compare the "Arte poética" of either Neruda, Borges, or Huidobro to an "Arte poetica" of a poet they had invented.

This thesis is merely the restatement of the "compare and contrast" paradigm, with no actual content. It was quite interesting to see what they came up with. At the very least they had to have a name of a poet and some quotes from the imaginary poem, which became a not imaginary poem because they had to write it, or at least enough of it to be able to cite it.  I thought this was a brilliant assignment, but it turned out a bit less brilliantly than I had wanted for many.  

Some broke the illusion in the paper and told the reader that the poet was imaginary. For me, that takes the fun out of it.  Few invented any juicy details about the poet, like what country they were from, or that they died in an insane asylum.  I was allowing them to make one half of the comparison into an exercise of the imagination, and they wouldn't take the bait.  Some didn't seem to realize that the genre had to have a meta quality to it, although that was all we had discussed in class.

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