Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oulipost Warm-Up #2: Blank Verse Amidst the Prose

The second pre-dip teaser trusts oulipost participants to "compose a poem using unintentional lines of iambic pentameter...written in regular metrical but unrhymed lines."
The process of development and skit,
a choir for your safety. At the end,
promoting education benefits
construction projects worth as much as
distinguished guests, potential nations, dreams,
and ethos, Arab countries stressed without
the need, another bone with agency.
The Ministry of Information aims
to highlight public competition’s sign
to open for commercial mega whole.
The overall experience event
included atmosphere that would ensure
the massive French investment recognized
by any measure. Everybody tries.
For some reason, I had it in my mind to make a sonnet (or fourteener) out of it. Do what you will.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oulipost Warm-Up #1: Tautogram

Here is a taste of what's to follow. Challenged to compose a poem whose wordsor at least the principal onesall begin with the same letter. The words must be sourced from your newspaper.

numerous

net
no not nobody

not now
new
nearly Nakilat

Non-Qatari net
natural non-fossil
namely nuclear North

Non-OECD news nuns
necessary note


National

* Words taken from articles published on March 12th in the online edition of the Gulf Times.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Oulipost Assignment #1

I joined The Found Poetry Review's Oulipost 2014 challenge for National Poetry Month next month, and, in a nutshell, agreed to write a response every day based on particular criteria using text from my local newspaper. For the uninitiated, from Wikipedia:
Oulipo...short for FrenchOuvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential literature") is a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians which seeks to create works using constrained writing techniques.
Sound interesting? The first assignment, as indicated by the post's title, requires me to respond to the five questions that follow.

1. WHAT EXCITES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
I'm excited to read work by and interact with a number of other people who will be going through the same process. Writing every day is also appealing, especially as I don't have to generate the ideas. It will be interesting to see what common threads will be revealed in the different responses as we'll all be using 'pop' text.

2. WHAT, IF ANYTHING, SCARES YOU ABOUT OULIPOST?
I'm not sure if I'll have the time to complete the activity every day.

3. HAVE YOU WRITTEN EXPERIMENTAL OR FOUND POETRY BEFORE? IF SO, TELL US ABOUT IT.
Having utilized such techniques in my own writing process for a number of years, it's a natural fit. It's nice that there seems to be so much enthusiasm about oulipo these days. When I first started writing found poetry in the late 80s and early 90s (which later morphed into something more methodical, and, possibly, subconsciously, driven by an increased reliance on digital texts), it wasn't so well received by my peers. Perhaps, I was hanging with the wrong crowd.

4. WHAT NEWSPAPER WILL SERVE AS YOUR SOURCE TEXT?
Gulf Times published in Qatar. 

5. WHO’S YOUR SPIRIT OULIPIAN? 
Italo Calvino. I like his books. Perhaps, by extension, Marcovaldo.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Qatar TESOL Reconstituted

Last weekend at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar, I attended the two-day 10th International Qatar TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) Conference: Promoting a Culture of Reading. I generally have a nice time at such events, but I'm selfish. I look for ideas to steal. A great deal of work goes into Qatar TESOL, and it wouldn't really be fair to criticize it. I generally find something to take away.

On the first day, after chatting over tea and coffee, one of my colleagues and I shuffled around together with our gift bags, but, after watching the plenary session and a workshop called "Critical Thinking for ESOL Writing Courses" by Matthew A. Carey, our divergent interests drew us apart for the final session. Coincidentally, we ran into each other at the end of the event and compared our results.

My colleague, who is remaining nameless through no fault of her own, was very pleased to have ended on a high note, but confessed that she had expected more. Demanded it, actually. Of course, I have the same expectations: I want to be impressed. I want to be showered in epiphany, and I certainly don't want to miss the best sessions or the most engaging presenters. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work out that way. That is, perhaps, asking for too much. I realized that, even though I might not be watching an earth-shattering presentation, it often awakened some ideas that I had forgotten. Doodling on my notepaper and nodding into my Blackberry, I caught myself thinking about how I could modify my current lessons to incorporate some of the ideas that had resurfaced after having sunk to the bottom of my own trunk of pedagogic funk. This made everything seem worthwhile.

A conference is a gathering of like-minded people. On the second day, while wandering the hallways in between sessions, I ran into a couple of Omani gentlemen whom I had met at last year's conference. We were excited to renew our acquaintance and vowed to keep in touch better than we had done during the past year, and we might even do it. They commented that last year's conference seemed better organized, which made me inwardly happy as last year's conference was hosted by the Academic Bridge Program, where I am employed. I was, again, remined of something else that I was supposed to be there for: shmoozing. It's not all about adding ideas to the arsenal. It's about getting to know my own colleagues a little better and running into old acquaintances AND making new ones. I was doing it!

So now, after a week back in the office reading students' personal statements and writing recommendation letters, I've reached the coveted Spring recess. I'll be heading out to The Global Summit on Education in Kuala Lumpur with a handful of my colleagues, and I'm expecting to catch some award-winning presentations. They better be good!