Since I started the poetry unit in my Level 1 English course, things have been non-stop fun, and not in the sarcastic way. Who knew, right? But Monday I lectured on devices of sound (assonance, consonance, rhyme, alliteration, etc.) using only examples from Lady GaGa. Can you identify the consonance in the line "Got my ass squeezed by sexy cupid?" Because my students now can. Since we’d read Poe’s detective story at the end of our fiction unit, I defined poetry as the art of "purloined letters," or language that has been wrested from its original, everyday context in order to make it signify anew. We experimented with "purloining" words from street signs and turning them into poetry.
NO TURN ON RED
which reveals a lovely balance and symmetry, especially in the chiasmatic effect of NO/ON. Or
NO TURN ON
which is suddenly about sex, or
TURN ON RED
which changes the meaning of the direction entirely.
In lecture, one student said he’d seen a real life example of just such a poetic intervention; another sent me an image:
Another asked if it would be poetry if he added a sticker to the LL (Lower Level) button in the elevator to make it say "LL Cool J." I might have said yes. Who knows what they think poetry is, but so far we’re having fun. Yesterday I used Marianne Moore’s "Poetry" to discuss how line breaks and stanzas generate meaning; today one of my students sent me this: