Governor’s School: All about sounds

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Paul Allen was probably my favorite of our guest instructors for Governor’s School. He focused on the sounds and rhyming of poetry, but he wasn’t interested in sing-song poetry. He showed us the impact of replicating sounds, even near-rhymes.

It was under his guidance that I produced my absolute favorite poem of the program. First, we were asked to think about an event we had experienced. We described that event in one to two sentences. From there, we chose about five to six key words. These words topped separate columns across our paper and underneath we wrote down as many words as possible that rhymed with them. We incorporated literal rhymes (church, birch) as well as capturing similar sounds (for instance the long A sound in sway, rage, fade). We used these words to craft our poems.

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Governor’s School: Structured poetry

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A simple example of rhyme

I was much more comfortable and used to free-form writing. I didn’t want rules and restrictions. I didn’t want to have to worry about following a pattern or a rhyming scheme. And yet, that’s exactly what I was introduced to for my poetry writing sessions. Our teachers introduced us to structured creativity. That sounds contradictory, but it’s really not. There may be established limits, but that’s really where you prove your skill. I didn’t want to be given a very specific writing topic that I had no experience with, but having a specific prompt meant I needed to engage in writing in a new way.

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Why are school dances so awkward?

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Movie: Napoleon Dynamite

Seriously? Why are school dances so incredibly awkward?

If it’s not completely segregated with boys on one side of the gym/cafeteria and girls on the other for a full hour, then it’s a matter of dancing with someone with two feet of space between you.

Or maybe the space thing had to do with the Catholic school dance experience. You have to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” after all.

I was not comfortable with my body, comfortable in trying new moves. I was the self-conscious kid who very much didn’t want to look stupid.

And yet, I did show up. That’s something. I didn’t just avoid these experiences altogether. (Good job, young Lindsay, for pushing yourself and testing out different environments!)

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