This week we finished our discussion of writing and professional life.

  • We reviewed last week’s response assignments. A few notes on these:
    • Cover letters are professional communications, so contractions, more conversational or familiar language, and the like should be avoided.
    • Things you have done that make you a good fit for the position need to be described in specific, concrete terms. If it isn’t concrete, it’s basically impossible for you to know how exactly the person reading will take it and you may either be setting them up to be disappointed in you or failing to really hype yourself as much as you should in the letter given what you did. Specificity takes the individual judgment call factor out of the picture.
    • Your goal is not to establish that you are better than the other candidates. The goal is to establish that you are the best candidate. (Remember our discussion of price-setting.)
  • We talked briefly about the transition happening in the writing economy today away from established journalistic brands and toward a new mix of marketing jobs, individual journalist brands, and online writing jobs for established media brands.
  • We talked about how writing as a hobby can also become a small, freelance income source.
  • We ended the discussion by talking about how writing assumes different forms based on what the author wants to do with the written piece. This sets us up to introduce a wildly different form of writing: poetry.

Next Week’s Assignment

I’ve picked out three fairly different poems for you to review for next week’s class. My goal in doing this is to highlight the breadth of English poetry, to find an accessible entry point for all of you (something in here should hopefully catch you), and to help you see how form is used in poetry and how it can be used in different ways in different types of verse.

The assignment is to pick one of the following three poems and look at the different tools used to make the poem work. You could look at rhyme scheme, feet, alliteration, or something else entirely, but you should try to identify the techniques being used and describe how the writer uses these tools to write his poem. (NOTE: Obviously 500 words is a short response relative to the length of the Tolkien poem especially. So I am not asking you to respond to an entire poem. Instead, identify a single technique or set of lines and analyze those.)

First Poem: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

JRR Tolkien’s “Sam’s Rhyme of the Troll”

Troll sat alone on his seat of stone,
And munched and mumbled a bare old bone;

For many a year he had gnawed it near,

For meat was hard to come by.

Done by! Gum by!
In a cave in the hills he dwelt alone,

And meat was hard to come by.
Up came Tom with his big boots on.
Said he to Troll: ‘Pray, what is yon?

For it looks like the shin o’ my nuncle Tim,

As should be a-lyin’ in graveyard.

Caveyard! Paveyard!
This many a year has Tim been gone,

And I thought he were lyin’ in graveyard.’
‘My lad,’ said Troll, ‘this bone I stole.
But what be bones that lie in hole?

Thy nuncle was dead as a lump o’ lead,

Afore I found his shinbone.

Tinbone! Thinbone!
He can spare a share for a poor old troll,

For he don’t need his shinbone.’
Said Tom, ‘I don’t see why the likes o’ thee
Without axin’ leave should go makin’ free

With the shank or the shin o’ my father’s kin;

So hand the old bone over!

Rover! Trover!
Though dead he be, it belongs to he;

So hand the old bone over!’
‘For a couple of pins,’ says Troll, and grins,
‘I’ll eat thee too, and gnaw thy shins.

A bit o’ fresh meat will go down sweet!

I’ll try my teeth on thee now.

Hee now! See now!
I’m tired o’ gnawing old bones and skins;

I’ve a mind to dine on thee now.’
But just as he thought his dinner was caught,
He found his hands had hold of naught.

Before he could mind, Tom slipped behind

And gave him the boot to larn him.

Warn him! Darn him!
A bump o’ the boot on the seat, Tom thought,

Would be the way to larn him.
But harder than stone is the flesh and bone
Of a troll that sits in the hills alone.

As well set your boot to the mountain’s root,

For the seat of a troll don’t feel it.

Peel it! Heal it!
Old Troll laughed, when he heard Tom groan,

And he knew his toes could feel it.
Tom’s leg is game, since home he came,
And his bootless foot is lasting lame;

But Troll don’t care, and he’s still there

With the bone he boned from its owner.

Doner! Boner!
Troll’s old seat its still the same,

And the bone he boned from its owner!

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.