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Today is the birthday of American poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). Wallace won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955 even though he never worked as a full-time poet. His day job was as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.
One of Stevens’ best-known poems is “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” published in 1917. The poem captures the essence of poetry, a form of writing that challenges both the writer and the reader to “look” at the world from different perspectives and to see it in new ways. In the tradition of Imagism, a poetic movement that emphasizes precise imagery and clear, concrete diction, Stevens presents thirteen numbered stanzas, each featuring a different way of seeing the ordinary blackbird (1).
Today’s Challenge: Ways of Looking – the Seven “Sees”
What are ways you can see the world in a new way and from different perspectives even on an ordinary day in an ordinary place? Writing itself, in its various forms, is an excellent way of looking at the world from different perspectives. The different modes of writing described below mirror the various ways our brain organizes and processes information. Select one topic — a person, place, object, or idea to examine; then, explore that one idea in at least 7 of the 13 ways listed below:
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Subject
- Description: Create a picture in words of what it looks like, sounds like, feels like, smells like, and/or tastes like.
- Comparison and Contrast: Explain what is it like and what it is not like.
- Cause and Effect: Explain where it came from and how it impacts the world.
- Definition: Explain exactly what is it called, what it means, and what makes it distinctive from other things.
- Narrative: Tell a true story related to it that involves real people in conflict.
- Exemplification: Make a generalization about it; then, support the generalization by giving specific examples that illustrate and explain it.
- Argumentation: State a claim related to it, and provide reasoning and evidence to prove your claim is valid.
- Problem and Solution: Explain conflicts that arise because of it, and how those conflicts can or might be resolved.
- Process: Explain how something happens related to it by giving a step by step sequence.
- Division and Classification: Identify its different parts and its different types.
- Poetry: Explore ideas related to it in verse, using imagery and figurative language.
- Fiction: Create a story about it that has a narrative point of view, characters, conflict, climax, resolution, and theme.
- Drama: Create a dramatic situation around it, with character, conflict, dialogue, and theme.
(Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
1-Poetry Foundation. Wallace Stevens.