Word Paletting, as I’ve come to call it, about a jillion years after I, first, started using it, is a poetry writing technique that, following my most voluminous and monumental stroke, I devised, in a way, to allow me to rejoin the communicative world.
The paradox in this is the fact that poetry has been defined as, “The best words, in their best order”. (Coleridge) When I returned from Canada and the University of Western Ontario’s University Hospital’s neurosurgical unit, I couldn’t even walk anywhere near the way I had before my final stroke; I damn well couldn’t talk the way I had before my bleed and the events that followed.
After having had my life spared, the next day or the day after that, my parents and I drove from London, Ontario, to the Toronto Airport. My mother and I boarded a plane that was to take us to Baltimore-Washington International Airport where my sister was going to pick us up.
Now, I’m not sure if we were scheduled to make a stop in Detroit or if the electrical system that provided power to the airplane’s air conditioning system’s motor having ceased to work was the sole impetus for my one and only, still to this day, visit to the state of Michigan.
However, on the tarmac of the Detroit Airport, we sat motionlessly, not knowing what the hell was going on.
Eventually, the pilot or co-pilot spoke over the loudspeaker, letting us know that, due to a glitch with its air conditioning, the plane was being grounded. Yippee!
The reason why I say “Yippee!” is by virtue of the jubilation of the stewardesses, who, for some reason, I now recognize seems paradoxical, due to the widely-held belief that Detroit, Michigan is not the most desirable destination, were outlandishly enthralled to be grounded there.
I don’t know any stewards or stewardesses, personally; however, if I ever meet one and I remember to ask, I plan to say: “So, what’s the cachet inherent in the city of Detroit for flight attendants? (Actually, I bought a used car from an Alaska Air steward, after my car was stolen in Seattle; I should have asked him.)
As I said before, Word Paletting, as I’ve come to call it, at least a jillion years after I used it first, is a poetry writing technique that, following my biggest stroke, I devised to allow me to rejoin the communicative world. The paradox in this is the fact that poetry has been defined as, “The best words, in their best order”.
When I returned from Canada and the University of Western Ontario’s University Hospital’s neurosurgical unit, I couldn’t even walk anywhere near the way I had before my final stroke.
I damn well couldn’t talk the way I had before my bleed and the events that followed. Also, I suffered from verbal aphasia.
Verbal Aphasia, for me, consisted of me, being able to think of things, fairly readily and being, simultaneously, unable to articulate what I had conceived of. It was murderously annoying; however, I don’t remember becoming annoyed. I just pressed on.
After having had my life spared, the next day or the day after that, my parents and I drove from London, Ontario, to the Toronto Airport. My mother and I boarded a plane that was to take us to Baltimore Washington International Airport, where my sister would pick us up.
Now, I’m not sure if we were scheduled to make a stop in Detroit or if the electrical system that provided power to the airplane’s air conditioning system’s motor having ceased to work was the sole impetus for my one and only, still to this day, visit to the state of Michigan; however, on the tarmac of the Detroit Airport, we sat motionlessly, not knowing what the hell was going on.
Anyway, moving on, this was just yet another experience from which I could, I could have or that I might still be able to utilize, as fodder for composing a palette, comprised of words.
One weird part about the word paletting process is that it is quite effective for allowing an individual to be communicatively creative; however, apparently, due to its “unorthodox” nature, it seems that it might not be readily-adopted by writing educators.
To me, it seems as though the universal set of all writing educators who want to assist all of their students become enabled to write might want to conceive of as many alternative methods for writing instruction as exist, or else be compromised when trying to accomplish what they are setting out to accomplish. What follows is my alternative method poetry’s production.
My alternative writing lab is designed around one simple, yet flexible, poetry writing technique: Word Paletting, that begins with the selection of an anchor term and, from that point, lessons are structured and devised to teach key concepts and writing processes of verse.
The method focuses on wordplay, versatility of language, creativity and discovery and, due to its step-by-step process, with inherent versatility, Word Paletting is quite manageable for use by Learning Disabled students, if recursive, guided assistance is provided to students who struggle.
The technique supports several specific learning opportunities, such as those that allow for the strategy to be taught, followed by students’ ability to practice pre-writing, imagery-generation, in which they can practice word choice differentiation and serialization of poetic writing.
Word Paletting encourages students to create a body of work and, then, acquire the capability to think meta-cognitively about what they have written, building additional skills in revising and discussing their work.
THE WORD PALETTING PROCESS
The process’ first step has the student writer select his or her anchor term; this is a word or phrase from which each student brainstorms a palette of connected words, each of which, in conjunction with the anchor term, comprises a compound word or phrase that it is recognized as commonplace in conversational speech.
Then, the writer brainstorms a list of words that each connects to the anchor term. The palette terms can be adjectives, verbs, adverbs, puns, homonyms, homophones or semantically-related to the anchor term.
However, the anchor term would best not to be an overtly commonplace word, such as an article, when students are first learning to utilize word paletting, due to the potential for the effects of the process to be inadvertently diluted.
Then, writers are prompted to provide an introduction that segues in to incorporate the first paletted term. Students should be prompted to worry less about meaning making and focus more on generating a flow of ideas, utilizing their creativity and imagination.
Learners should seek potential connections that exist between the paletted term that is being focused upon and utilized, currently, and the potential connections that exist between it and the subsequent paletted term they will be including, next, in the wording of their poem.
The next step, “rocktumbling”, requires writers to assess and adjust the wording within the poem, to improve the flow of their creation, through the elimination of unnecessary wording. After “rock-tumbling” and “bridge-building”, the act of adding wording or layering implied meaning is utilized, in which the addit-ion of wording or the layering of implied meaning and connections within the structure of the poem is carried out.
Then, in the “Wrap-up” stage, writers adjust line length, infuse slant rhyme and add homophones, homonyms and alliteration, as a means to enhance the poem’s cadence, while preserving the meaning of the written work. Students, here, will modify the poem’s visual representation, by experimenting with typographic elements, such as purposed line breaks, altered typography, form and creative hyphenation.
The primary focus of this tactic is placed on language creation and making connections, through the stages of the writing process; meaning is usually discovered in a Word Paletted poem, through the act of composing it or in evaluating it, after its completion.
After acquiring proficiency in this writing strategy’s usage and having experienced discovery, while writing, subsequent lessons can be structured, utilizing specific attention, that can be placed on direction.
Understanding that writing can be a process through which thoughts are discovered and by which connections are made between found material is a valuable lesson for learning disabled students and, potentially, can be transferred to other written tasks.
SKILLS EXPLICITLY COVERED
This poetic process prioritizes the generation of ideas and, in fact, is built around the concept of a palette, comprised of words, that provides a Learning Disabled student a site on which to amass and store ideas, such to enable the writer to refer back to it, recursively; students compile the words that will be utilized and brainstorm usable language for their poems.
The instructor can communicate the process by which the selection of the anchor term is executed, as a means to a construct a compilation of multiple writing goals.
For writers who are inexperienced who are learning the Word Paletting strategy for the first time, the tutor can prompt students to choose an anchor term that is of students’ personal interest to them, as a means to engage them more.
Subsequently, after students are proficient in the process’ usage, the instructor can assign tasks that are thematic, that are driven by audience or that are driven by purpose.
Due to idea generation’s difficulty it imposes upon Learning Disabled students, writers are guided as they acquire the successful use of several brainstorming strategies, including: ideating off connecting words that are found and utilized in common conversation, finding abstract phrases that contain the anchor term, looking for and determining unusual juxtapositions that can be constructed with the anchor term, considering the anchor term’s homophones and homonyms and capitalizing upon any other knowledge a specific student knows about the anchor term and/or what personal connotation the student has of the anchor term.
To enhance students’ understanding, the instructor models the process of selecting the anchor term, first, and demonstrates the act of generating the paletted list. The instructor demonstrates this prewriting process, collectively, with the students, by choosing an anchor term and proceeding to construct a list of correlative, paletted terms. By this, the group, together, will create a collective palette.
A small group setting makes it possible for the instructor to pace instruction to meet the needs of individual students, as each is provided one-on-one explanations and assistance, until each is able to master the act of generating ideas, in palette form, using the different strategies.
Learning disabled students also should be supported with printed handouts of the Word Paletting process’ steps, a list of idea generation strategies, a copy of the instructor’s class-generated word palettes, as well as the tutor’s e-mail address and Facebook and Twitter account information.
The contact information would suffice to provide learning disabled students the ability to progress, as readily as possible, even if their memory-contingent aspects of their disabilities are able to have thwarted the ability for them to utilize Word Paletting, unassisted.
Students would be able to contact their peers who are engaged in the Alternative Writing Lab and they would be able to contact their tutor, as well.
WORD CHOICE AND USAGE
Essentially, Word Paletting avails multiple opportunities for writers to meditate upon word choice and usage and, as a writing process, it promotes students’ abilities to amass and generate significant amounts of wording, images and phrases, on which to draw, when crafting their first poem.
By virtue of their cognitive disabilities, learning disabled students experience difficulty as they attempt to access prior knowledge, or when successfully writing coherently.
By its nature, Word Paletting enables Learning Disabled writers to have a self-generated tool that is used to create new communication.
During rock tumbling, writers focus on the smoothing out the cadence of their writing and improving its sound and comprehensibility, simultaneously.
Experimenting with alternative diction is vital, here. When students segue into the revision stages, the tutor needs to provide examples and model specific strategies for accomplishing the generation and evaluation of word choice and usage.
This could include determining synonymous words, to those that are included in a poem, that are of different lengths, syllabically, as a means to ameliorate, simultaneously, the meaning and sound of the poem.
If, at first, students experience difficulty, while attempting this, they can be prompted to utilize a thesaurus or a computer’s thesaurus application, as this will allow students’ abilities to locate usable synonyms, metaphors and puns.
These discussions occur, throughout the writing lab proceedings; however, individual educators can utilize Word Paletting to construct a diverse number of assignments to meet this goal.
An assignment that is effective in facilitating students’ acquisition of specific skills is having them write a poem that takes the form of an argument. In doing this, individuals select a word to represent a basic argument and use it as their anchor term. They brainstorm their palettes, from here.
Then, writers compose two poems off this palette, utilizing a specific argument and one pallet of terms. The first poem is written to one audience and the second, to a very different audience.
When determining which of the two audiences is more appropriate, the instructor can assist, as necessary, or the student’s proposed audience could be arrived at through group discussion and consensus.
An established canon of considerations, pertinent to the concept of audience awareness needs to be introduced, in discussion, and provided in printed form, as a means to assist learning disabled writers to become enabled to self-monitor their performance of the writing act.
After students have mastered the independent usage of the Word Paletting process, they can be presented Word Paletting tasks to be completed, individually, that are structured around their personal strengths and weaknesses, as writers.
One skill that is requisite for students to acquire is the ability to establish and maintain audience awareness; students and the instructor can discuss aspects of audience, such as: what a hypothetically-perceived audience of the poem knows, what the author’s intention is, how the rhetorical/dialogic conventions’ affect comprehensibility, whether or not the poem’s vocabulary is appropriate for it its audience, as well as, concerns of tone, voice and point of view.
CONNOTATION AND DENOTATION
In the following sections, lessons cover various elements of writing poetry and it is while imparting them that the educator has the greatest opportunity to spur students to embrace writing.
Whether it is playing with words and meaning or it is exploring sound and rhythm, connotation and denotation comprise the joy and delight for many writers.
The facility of wordplay can afford a profound difference to learning disabled students, due to the fact that a writer cannot fail when he or she is at play. Much less, tension and fear are nonexistent under these circumstances.
Creative writing, specifically poetry, offers writers different methods for communicating concepts. The mixed exploration of denotative and connotative language presents students opportunities to use language in new ways.
Discussion and practice of effective use of metaphors, implied and inferred meanings and puns provides disabled students practical strategies for strengthening their uses of language as a communicative vehicle.
Word Paletting undergirds and supports experimentation, as it provides writers, easily, the ability to access raw language, from which to write. Students, then, can work independently or in groups, discovering different possibilities for denotative or connotative applications of their word pallets.
Students, by looking at language, as poets, learn to own their words and vocabularies, to engage with them, transform them and alter their personal concepts of their communicative funds of knowledge.
By sharing the long history of poets who have used found imagery in their poems, with students, including the concept of ekphrasis, learners will comprehend that the exercises they been presented have a commonality in their strategies that can be adapted, customized and repurposed.
Another exercise that is utilized by poets is the act of generating writing from “found language”. This is language that is found in other types of writing, found while they are out on the street or can be found in written dialogues, in magazines, among many other sources. A tutor can focus upon found language and ask students to record and bring this language with them to the LD Writing Lab.
Examples of this found language could be communication that they have seen written on signs, maybe as graffiti on a building, appearing on-line or printed in a graphic novel they are reading.
Students, potentially, could be more engaged in the writing process, when they are provided more control over what they are writing and what they are writing about.
For many learning disabled students, this would represent the first time they have been asked to look at words in this way and, accordingly, the tutor or instructor would need to model and establish a defined sequence of steps and criteria to guide students’ selection processes of which word to implement; students could require assistance, as they attempt to incorporate wording from off their palettes, into their poems, as well.
FLUIDITY, FLOW AND RHYTHM
Differentiating and experimenting with fluidity, flow and rhythm represent components of writing which affect the drafting and revision stages of the writing process.
Effective, established poets routinely consider these aspects of writing poetry and attempt to maintain awareness of them, while considering other important elements, such as word choice and meaning.
These components of the writing process impact a poem’s sound, when it is spoken; during instruction that is skills-contingent, students need to be introduced to the act of orating their own poems and need to be prompted to establish and maintain awareness of audience, as well.
Fluidity and flow impact the ease a poem presents to an orator and is contingent upon the sound of the poem’s wording, rhythm and pacing.
The instructor in the LD WAC introduces each concept, in conjunction with illustrative sample poems that are distributed to each student and read aloud.
Strategies for comprehension and eventual mastery of fluidity and flow will be disseminated, including the usage of assonance (repetition of a specific vowel sound), consonance (repetition of a specific consonant sound) and alliteration (the repetition of the initial consonant sound of a word).
Here, rhythm can be divided into specific components, to utilize syllabification, stress and phrasing, such to differentiate a poem’s or line’s pace and rhythm.
Finally, the role of rhyme in changing the sound of the poem can be addressed. The instructor models a particular strategy, using a communally-shared word palette. Then, the class engages in collective practice and, finally, students are assigned the task of writing a poem that requires the usage of each strategy.
Revision techniques need to be taught, using individual class lessons and must capitalize upon students’ meetings they have with the instructor.
Together, student and professor survey each poem, using a checklist of prone revision strategies to assist students as they monitor their progress. The tutor scaffolds these goings-on, asking the learning disabled student a set of leading questions about the process that was used to construct the poem and about the specific parts of the writing that could conceivably be revised.
For example, the tutor could ask the student questions, pertaining to the writing process that was used in creating a particular poem or the student could be asked to consider specific aspects of a poem to be revised.
01. A student can be asked questions, concerning how the order for the inclusion of the palette terms was determined.
02. The student could be questioned, by the educator, as to the student’s re-organization process, how he or she went about controlling the flow and rhythm of his or her poem and the tutor could ask the student to read his or her poem out loud, to enable the student to hear the echoic nature of the work, while focusing on word choice.
Student and tutor would work together until such time the student is comfortable with the revision process.
Compensatory strategies that could be imparted to learning disabled students could include provision of the knowledge of how audio recordings or digital video could be of profound benefit to them.
These recordings could be disseminated to learning disabled students, by way of e-mail or posted to a class-specific website, such as Blackboard.
Because of students’, utilizing the lab, relative novice statuses in accessing class materials and information through these means, professors would need to model the usage of the site, explicitly, discussing potential methods for students’ usage of the recordings.
For example, students would be able to use the recordings to stipend their note-taking processes, as a means to assist them in reviewing what has been communicated during a lecture or could be provided as a resource for LD students to become more independently enabled to accomplish subtasks and subprocesses, such as becoming enabled, unsupervised, to log on to a particular computer.
To further assist students who have learning disabilities, instructors would be called upon to segment the recordings of specific lectures into smaller components that would be organized, according to topic.
Due to the organization of a professor’s specific lecture, the segmentation of the recordings would be able to assist learning disabled students, quite effectively, as the recordings could be identified by the time-stamp of the particular lecture, in accordance to the professor’s outline of his or her lesson. This would allow all students to find the specific information they need to focus upon with greater ease and expedience.
Learning disabled students, sometimes, require extended time to process, remember, synthesize and apply what they have learned. Thereby, it is important that instructors work with each student and provide them with extended time, as is necessary, such to allow LD students to progress at a manageable pace.
Truly, negotiating extra time is frequently necessary for learning disabled students; however, this could be regarded as the opportunity for a professor to impart better strategies to all students.
Other types of compensation techniques that learning disabled writing students could use to assist them include the provision of graphic organizers, the ability to utilize voice recognition software, access to spell checking applications and dictionary and thesaurus applications and the usage of mnemonic devices to compensate for memory issues.
The intended mission for this laboratory is to fuel motivation and action, in an environment in which the LD student can metamorpha-size into a poet and student who has proficient writing and thinking skills who, as well, happens to have a learning disability.
While the alternate writing lab that is outlined here is constructed around instructional practices that have proven to be most effective for use by learning disabled students, individual compensatory strategies may be necessary to support every student in helping him or her overcome the obstacles that are presented by a specific disability.
Accordingly, a skilled learning disabilities specialist would be most beneficial as, the disabilities that students face are varied, both, in effect and severity.
Contingent upon a student’s time of diagnosis, he or she could have a highly developed set of compensatory strategies, already that he or she uses; or, a learning disabled student could have no previously-established set of compensation skills, at all.
Likely, students who become engaged in the Learning Disabled Writing Lab will already be assigned a school-administered LD specialist, who might work with to find the best strategies for compensating for a student’s disability.
However, it is most important that the instructor who administers the Word Paletting curriculum, to students, in the lab is familiar with several potential means and methods for instruction of the curriculum, as well as how the curriculum can be utilized to facilitate students’ acquisition of skills that are existent in the curricula of the LD Writing Lab and school.
As a means to monitor students’ abilities to engage in meaningful and profound discussions around the writing process and about their own written capabilities, educators from the learning-disabled alternate writing laboratory and the teachers of a specifically-tailored entry-level composition class could monitor and assess learning disabled students, several times, during both of the semester that students would be experiencing the LD Writing Lab’s curriculum and in the following semester, when the students would be engaged in a learning-disabled-specific freshman composition class. Students would be monitored, recursively, throughout both semesters.
The monitoring process would utilize a rubric that would be common between and developed and agreed upon by LDWL personnel and administrators of the school’s freshman composition program. This rubric most likely would best be devised, such to determine and assess students’ comprehension and communication skills, concerning the curriculum, including: competency in identification and explanation of processes students intend to use in completing a specific writing task, competency in discussing and applying writing strategies, goal setting capabilities for the act of writing and ability to effectively monitor the accomplishment of established writing goals and proficiency’s acquisition, in responding to suggestions in question form or in acquisition of effective revision skills.
The written capabilities of students in the Alternative Writing Lab and in the control group must be considered, together, as a means to determine if students utilizing the Lab, the following semester, when they enter into English 101, are equipped with a higher level of written proficiency and writing-contingent cognitive awareness than students who do not receive explicit instruction.
By virtue of the usage of self-regulated strategies having been determined to have a positive effect on learning disabled students, comprehending best practices for communication of these strategies’ usage and providing a heightened level of expectation is an important goal of the Alternative LD Writing Lab.
Assessing rates of the lab’s success encompasses monitoring student awareness of the technique and gauging how often students utilize the strategies.
A third goal exists that extends from the goings-on of the Alternative Writing Lab; in that, an LD-specific freshman composition class could be an environment in which students become invested and encouraged to seek out their instructors and work with them, to identify strategies that would be able to be used to accomplish future writing tasks. Acquiring a distinct awareness of students’ levels of awareness, potentially, could be achieved through the usage of the survey that was developed to have students divulge their personal viewpoints on the act of writing.
In order to collect data to determine students’ usage, both classes could be utilized; through emphasizing process, rather than students’ end-products, educators, possibly, would need to mandate that students accomplish each step of the writing process and require all drafts to be remitted.
Due to instructors’ requirement to meet with students, frequently, to work together on each assignment, the frequency of use of the lab and successful application of strategies would need to be tracked. This would be possible for both curricula/classes.
Contingent upon the results of students’ first tests, it could be that the Alternate Writing Lab model would want to be availed to support LD students’ realization of other, specific writing goals.
If learning disabled students are able, not only, to build skills and, also, to embrace poetry and creative writing, an advanced version of the Learning Disabilities Assistive Writing Lab good be made available, to teach and scaffold students to acquire creative writing strategies as a means to supplement a traditional creative writing class.
Often, professors of creative writing are not coincidentally adept at instructing learning disabled individuals as they are at teaching creative writing concepts.
As well, a plausible extension of the Alternative Writing Lab concept would be to make other, similar labs available; for example, in content-area writing, in literary analysis, in scientific writing or in business writing, that connect with learning disabled and any other type of students’ specific aims and interests.
I wrote this poem in Spokane, WA.
contacts in a universe
the land of milk honey
-bees, & paper wasps, would
fly so high, tho’ intimate,
still animate, beneath a
buzz; as, nothing, in a nutshell,
yet, still, nothing, in a nutshell,
all was coming in’to fright
the shy & fly, so high & stick
its stinger in a cloud: the
universe would laugh, aloud, &, in
the dark, would euthanize, as, thus,
it let a cosmos die.
Due the fact of my having been enthralled by the creative writing class I was enrolled in, at the time I suffered my final stroke, I retained the concept of “objective correlative” and brought it with me into the brave, new world that was and still is post-1987, Matt Ramsey-shaped reality. However, if you’ve never known anyone who has, both, suffered a massive stroke and lived to talk about it, here’s the skinny…
contacts in a universe
the land of milk honey
-bees, & paper wasps, would
fly so high, tho’ intimate,
still animate, beneath a
buzz; as, nothing, in a nutshell,
yet, still, nothing, in a nutshell,
all was coming in’ to fright
the shy & fly, so high & stick
its stinger in a cloud: the universe would laugh, aloud, &, in the dark, would euthanize, as, thus, it let a cosmos die.
Contact me, at: firstname.lastname@example.org,
or, on Facebook, at:
In my pre-monstrous stroke existence, I remember, I was enrolled in all of the highest level academic classes but one and, in reality, two years earlier, I had purposely taken myself out of that English curriculum, based on the asinine attitudes I received from the person who was my teacher of English in 1984-1985 school year. I think he or she gave me a B and I must have been made gun-shy of English.
Such are the crucial concerns of middle school/soon-to-be high school students. I think this might have been the reason why I didn’t take creative writing in my freshman year, as well; although, I seem to remember there being a lot of inherent additional “drama-related” goings-on.
For example, even though several of us freshman were probably much better musicians than even some of the seniors who were in the non-freshman band, due to scheduling gaps, several of us freshman were ramrodded into the upperclassman symphonic band.
The teacher never fully got over this, even after he realized that many of us were, qualitatively, to his band’s advantage. I, for one, had been taking private drum lessons, from a guy who had majored in Percussion at the Berklee School of Music, in Boston. In fact, one other person, a year older than me, who was in the high school band percussion section with me took drum lessons from the same guy I did.
And, another childhood friend of mine who was in the band and who was also a year older than me had been playing drums for several years and, too, had been privately trained. Suffice it to say, based on the fact that, contingent upon the teacher’s relegation of freshman drummer’s to triangle and claves (pronounced:”KLAH-VAYZ) duty, I and several other freshman drummers, as well as freshman sax, clarinet et al players, just dropped out of band in our sophomore year.
As I said before, I was taking private lessons and, more importantly, I was actually playing in my own non-curriculum-based band that allowed me to play Black Flag (the lead guitarist was a big Greg Ginn fan), DOA and whatever else we wanted to play or to improvise and color outside the established lines, on purpose and intentionally.
This was my sentiment, concerning music: it was fun to play, sometimes, even if the particular songs that were being forced before us were older than dust and slower than the change of seasons.
This was, technically, my outlook on most academic subjects, as well. My mind liked the freedom of improvisation and I think this was the reason why I waved bye-bye to band, following my first year.
All the same, before May of 1987, I was totally able to do what I needed to do to get A’s and occasional B’s, without really asserting myself.
I held the same sentiment, concerning high school English. From my freshman year, in Honor’s English, I can’t really remember much of anything, course-wise; however, even though I had to confirm this with her, to be certain, my wife was indeed in that class with me and she remembers the same lesson I remember.
One day, when we freshman came into the classroom, on the chalkboard, the ee cummings poem, “Buffalo Bills/ defunct” was transcribed. I think I remember becoming engaged in this lesson, slightly more than other lessons from that same year or other high English lessons, throughout the rest of high school.
One zillion years later, as a graduate student, I was able, still, to recite that poem, verbatim, in a clinic that was conducted at the National Council of Teachers of English/National Writing Project and have, since, written an explication of the poem and, even better, I’ve written instructions on how to explicate any poem, that can be used on most any work of poetry that is over a non-determined length.
Anyway, the first step of the writing process that I devised and which I refer to, now, as word paletting, is the creation of one’s palette.
The poetry writing I had done, prior to my stroke, was all fairly stream of conscious weirdness. The fact that I remembered having enjoyed the class is, most likely, what caused me to re-enroll in it, after returning to school, having had my pumpkin carved at JHU and the University of Western Ontario.
The class was non-structured and could be repeated as long as a student was enrolled at the school. Word Paletting, as well, can be repeated, over and over, recursively, to one’s hearts delight.
And, while writing my thesis, I actually came to identify several different ways that Word Paletting can be used to enhance one’s written ability and communicative versatility.
contacts in a universe
You see, in my mind, the relationship between the words, “CONTACT”, and other words on the list was both objective and, simultaneously, correlative. I had been generating list of words, using this method, for several years, and had been writing lots and lots of poems through its use.
In my short-term-memory-compromised, post-magnanimously voluminous stroke-affected mind, there was no possibility that T.S. Eliot or Washington Allston, the guy who actually came up with the Objective Correlative concept, could have intended anything different.
It was not until I was engaged in a doctoral level Writing Education class that I was forced to reckon the fact that secret to my creativity was based upon a misinterpretation.
Hell, I had never even heard of Washington Allston and the T.S. Eliot I’d read was really not my cup of tea. I was and am, to this day, an e.e. cummings man. However, if it wasn’t T.S. Eliot, who was it that taught the writing method to me?
This question, once I realized it was worthy of answering, lead me to contact the guy who mentioned Objective Correlative to me, first.
Actually, he was the only person ever to have mentioned it; I am sure. I contacted the creative writing teacher from my high school and sent him a copy of my step-by-step instructions for the “objective, correlative method for poetry’s creation” pamphlet that I had written.
He looked it over and, in a day or two, let me know that he really liked it and thought it was pretty ingenious; however, he also said that he really had never seen it or heard of it before.
The next step in the process is to segue in and provide an introduction to the poem; in contact(s) in a universe, the segue is, “the land of milk and honey/ bees &”. The next word, “ paper is connected to the fulcrum or anchor term, “contact”, in that “contact paper” is an existent object that people use, occasionally, in everyday life.
The next compound word or two word concept that appears is, “contact high ” and is implemented, without the repetition of the anchor term. Next, are the words intimate , buzz , coming in’ to and high.
So, now the individual who is using the word paletting method must go back and look at his or her writing to determine how and where, in the poem, it can be tweaked and enhanced, based on the fact that poetry can be and has been defined as the best words, in their best order. Even though word paletting doesn’t really directly fit the “best words” qualification, right on the head, due to the unorthodox way the palette is arrived at, the words that one uses to putty together one’s poem must or can be highly refined, through the process of Rock Tumbling.
This is the editorial process a writer of poetry uses to ramp up and get the rhythm and flow of a poem as supercharged as possible; it is necessary for a writer use, as a means to get his or her written product as close as possible to being “the best words, in their best order”. Learning Disabled writers, especially, (at least I was always of this mindset) probably don’t readily embrace this, due to the fact that, if they become willing to write creatively, shouldn’t it be as least taxing on them as is possible?
Creative Writing, from elementary school, for example, was relatively fun and non-threatening, wasn’t it? Middle School, too, tight? Therefore, in later levels of education, writing poetry must be just as non-threaten-ing, right?
This is what LD students need to have as far as their collective mindset. When they, previously, have gotten lackluster grades on their written products, what they have been graded down for has likely been content, mechanics and other similar aspects that writing on a prescribed topic necessitates.
However, in writing poetry using Word Paletting, the formality peels away and the writer merely has to refine and re-refine the wording of the poem, through Rock Tumbling: the process one uses to smooth out the cadence and to enhance the flow of what is being written.
What Rock Tumbling involves is looking at, reciting aloud or listening to another person recite the poem, aloud, and determing how to enhance the flow of the poem, by way of inserting or removing a syllable or more than one syllables, to make the poem more easy to be readily “comprehended”.
By comprehended, what is meant is that the wording is able to create an image or thought in a reader’s or listener’s mind that is needs no more communication in order to have impact.
Rock Tumbling, as far as I’m concerned, allows an LD writer to build confidence in himself or herself, in that, even though there is no right or wrong answer to the question as to how long a writer needs to spend on it, the process allows the writer to edit and amend his or her written product and not have a teacher’s red ink indicate where work is required to be “fixed”.
The great thing about Rock Tumbling is that it provides a writer expereince in fine-tuning communication, pretty much, at the ground level; an LD poet, using the process becomes aware of the differences that exist between vowel sounds, between consonant sounds, between monosyllabic utterances, polysyllabic utterances, all without having to worry about meaning-making.
As long as the beauty of language is achieved or is able to be enhanced, the poet has suceeded. Even though I might have been ridiculed behind my back or viewed as being lesser in status, somehow, following my return to school, in the Fall of 1987, the fact was that, in most ways, scholastically, I was doing pretty poor work, except in my desire to resume poetic communication.
Following the replacement of the ventricular shunt that was installed in my brain, all things suddenly became supercharged.
Whereas, before, most things seemed “blurry”: as in, one day melded into the next and my thoughts, which I couldn’t readily maintain for very long, escaped into the ether.
After the replacement of the first shunt, at least, I was alot more cognitively and physically enabled. At this point in time, my ability to carry out Rock Tumbling more quickly became evident to me; as well, go figure!!! my ability to write coherently on topics in my other classes returned, too. My short-term memory, however, messes with me, presently.
The next inherent step is going back and re-reading the poem to make sure than nothing has been left unfinished or unrefined; after this, comes a slightly “misrepresentational” act.
What can be done is the identification of words in the poem that have double meanings/interpretations, alternative spellings or that are homophones with words that can, when used in the place of the denotatively-intended commun-ication, alter what the reader comes away with.
For example, in e.e. cummings, “Buffalo Bills defunct”, the poet wrote, “…and break onetwothreefourfive pigeons justlikethat…”, to convey what a sure shot Wm Cody had been; when, in re-reading the same wording, a person could come to the interpretation that Buffalo Bill, who, in retirement, had used his precise aim with a gun to take part in vaudevillian sideshows in which he broke clay pigeons, simultaneously as he was able to relieve onlookers of their money they paid for admittance to see the show. e.e. cummings, therefore, can be determined potentially to be suggesting that Buffalo Bill made it possible for his captive audience, or pigeons, to be relieved of their money, or to become “broke”.
A cognitively-impaired individual who starts thinking and commun-icating using these types of methods and who beccomes proficient is able to think, write, respond, speak and synthesize much more easily.
Eventually, this is true of the individual when he or she is subsequentally creating more poems and, most importantly, when he or she is, once again, merely writing denotatively about that which has taken, that which is taking place or that which will take place.