Empathy and the Image
Elizabeth Bishop’s poems often begin with the speaker closely observing the external world. As the poem progresses, something like recognition begins to kick in, and the poem becomes an occasion for the speaker to be acted upon by her environment. Using Bishop as a starting point, we will explore how other poems also enact something like this and employ an image to bring the speaker, poet, and reader into proximity with something or someone capable of changing our sense of the external world and our place within it.
NOTE: This extended Master Class offers teachers a chance to meet more than once and build on the energy of a Master Class. Following the Master Class with Ms. Smith, teachers will jointly design a Poetry Reading that their students will take part in. Teachers will meet on February 11 and March 11, after school, to keep preparations for the Reading on track, offer each other advice, cheer each other on, and do some writing together. In April, each teacher will select two students to be part of the Reading, which will be held Poets House. It will be a moving experience: 32 kids from very different backgrounds and schools coming together in a beautiful venue through poetry.
Tracy K. Smith won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Life on Mars, her third book of poetry. Her previous books are The Body’s Question and Duende. She earned a BA from Harvard and an MFA from Columbia. She teaches creative writing at Princeton and lives in Brooklyn.