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When I first heard about Shel Silverstein, I was about 7 years old. My favorite poem in the plethora of books was "I Cannot Go To School Today." The poem is about girl who fakes being sick so she can not go to school. What is so funny about the poem is the dramatic approach she takes to then realize that she went through so much effort for nothing.

What I loved about this poem was the message and the story. I did not really realize the internal rhyming or the conversational words that he used that helped the poem so easy to follow.

The other book that I read from Shel Silverstein was "The Giving Tree"

Shel's books banned?

Believe it or not Silverstein's books were among many that were challenged as banned books.
"The book was locked away in Boulder, Colorado's Public Library in 1988 because the librarian considered the book sexist."
There are many cases where this book had been challenged. To name just a few: "at the elementary schools in the Papillion-LaVista School District in Omaha, Nebraska because the book promotes :behavior abusive to women and children, suicide as a way to manipulate parents, mockery of God, and selfish and disrespectful behavior." In West Mifflin Pennsylvania schools the book was challenged because the poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony is 'morbid.' "
The book was challenged in "West Allis-West Milwaukee, Wis. school libraries because the book 'suggests drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for the truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, rebellion against parents,' and because it inspires young people to commit 'acts of violence, disbelief, and disrespect.' Challenged in Bloomsburg, Pa because a poem titled, "Dreadful" talks about how 'someone at the baby.' "

Though Silverstein's book may seem as harsh to some and a bad influence, I respect Shel and his great talent. He introduced poetry to children and his book are still stacked on my bookshelf at home.

Poetry is over...

...but it's been an amazing experience.

Poetry is one of those subjects you generally wouldn't study without a particular interest in the subject. "Yeah, poetry's pretty cool I guess," some will say, while others scoff "Pfff, who actually reads poems anymore?" Even my experience with poetry was limited to Shel Silverstein and a brief poetry unit in sophomore English class. While poetry does appear to be a more obscure facet of English literature, it's by no means outdated or old-fashioned. It's just the opposite, in fact; the blog project completed for this class indicates nothing less.

The freedom given to us on this project has allowed us to explore so many different aspects of poetry, everything from Harry Potter to the Black Arts Movement to Lady Gaga. Things that I wouldn't even think to categorize as poetry have been analyzed and critiqued for their poetic devices and impact on the world. The project has shown me just how much reach the poetic word has, and how we are affected without even realizing it.

Thank you, Mrs. Lewis. It's been a fantastic class, one that always lifted my mood and brightened up my day, no matter what the situation. Thank you, other students in the class, for bonding together in the three months we spent together and bringing us closer. Thank you, Walt Whitman, for starting the American poetic movement and inadvertently giving birth to what would later be the best class ever.

Thank you all :)

A Look Back

At the end of Junior year when I was filling out my schedule, I was overjoyed that Poetry fit in my schedule. I'll be honest, I thought this class would be a breeze. Well, in my opinion, it wasn't. It made me think a lot and express my emotions, and for that I am so extremely happy I took this class.

Poetry also was the one class that I would look forward to going to everyday. No matter my mood or my stress level, poetry was always that one class that added some ease and relaxed me.
Before this class, the only background I had on poetry was Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein from my childhood and my sophomore english class. Needless to say, I have learned so many more poets and different styles of poetry. Who would have thought that some of the best poets were college drop-outs or wrote their poems on a napkin or a cell wall!

This class made me think outside the box and really made me voice my opinion. I could not be any happier that I chose to take this class. I met many wonderful people who I can now say 'Hi" to when I pass by them.

Thank you for offering this class and making it so totally awesome :)

Defying Gravity

First off, congratulations to everyone who performed in the musical Man of La Mancha this weekend. You guys were spectacular.

Now, musical performances come in all different forms. Some musicals are entirely ensemble-based, some are led by women, some have plants as the main characters. Some are live, some are filmed (oftentimes, one is adapted from the other!) No matter how it's structured, at its core, the musical is a live performance interspersed with song and dance. This post is going to focus on the differences in live and recorded musicals.

Now, as my musical theater expertise is limited to high school plays and Glee before I stopped watching it (seriously Quinn? Now you want custody?), I won't claim to know exactly what makes a good musical, so bear with me.

One obvious benefit to a filmed musical is the exclusion of errors; no matter how difficult a song or performance may be, the cast can always reshoot it in another take, until they have a satisfactory performance. This gives us the "bloopers" commonly seen at the end of comedy movies, where the failed takes are shown after the movie's been completed.
In contrast, live theater consists of practicing the play over and over again in the hopes that, when you do go on and perform, there are no errors, and if there are, the actors know their characters well enough to cover any slip-ups. This is a much more frightening way to perform, but it's also much more exciting. Take the January 9th, 2004 performance of Wicked:

The platform in "Defying Gravity" (a key element of the song) failed to rise in time. I got a heart attack just watching the video, I can't even imagine how Idina Menzel managed to cover it without an issue. Such is the risk of live theater, but it makes the end result all the more amazing.

Another common aspect of filmed musicals is cutting for time. This isn't just limited to musicals; movies as a whole have a very short amount of time to present their story, and unless you have an incredible movie (or you're James Cameron), you risk losing viewers and money if it goes on too long. In a musical film, this can often lead to shortening or removing songs, but that's not always a bad thing: the 1972 film adaptation of Man of La Mancha managed to trim an entire minute and a half off of the song "I'm Only Thinking Of Him," in a very clever way; it built on the overlapping trio present in the original song to still get the message across effectively.
This is less present in live theater; musicals can and will frequently go on for two and a half hours or more, depending on factors like production values. Still, it's still fairly rare for a full show to be performed; frequently, one of the first things a cast does is decide which parts they'll remove for time.

This is a fairly superficial thing to say, but a film has the definite advantage of looking for specific actors. A screenwriter can write a part and say "I'm feeling Emma Stone for this part" or "I wrote the role with [Alec Baldwin] in mind." Unless it's a huge, big-name theater, a live performance will often have to make due with what they have (one of the reasons why there's so frequently a shortage of males in theater). It's a small thing, but it does exist.

In the end though, the show always pulls through, whether it's live theater, live TV, or a pre-recorded film. Everything always works out for the best (and when it doesn't, the audience usually doesn't know anyway).

What is a haiku?
Why, put simply, a haiku
Is a type of poem

A specific type
With special syllable counts
Five, seven, and five.

From where came haikus?
Why, from Japan, naturally
I'll explain why now.

Japanese language
Is divided into these
Things they call kana.

kana is but
One unique syllable
That never changes.

So you see, kana
Are excellent for haiku
Not so in English.

Usually, a
Haiku'll be about nature
Trees, wind, and so forth

But, not all the time.
Here's some American ones
About tons of stuff.

Could be serious.
Although, could be humorous;
It's all up to you.

Why write in haiku?
Why restrict yourself so much?
What use does it have?

A haiku is short
Sweet, and to the point. No need
For complex words here.

Perhaps that's just why.
A haiku contains so much
Packed in so little.

The author will count
And compare, and consider
All of his options

Until at last, light!
The perfect combination!
Of word, and image.

And thus, the haiku.
Noble form of poetry
Marches on through time

They call Chicago, the "Windy City."
In poetry class, we have read two poems that talk about Chicago. These poems were Sandburg's "Chicago" and Troupe's "Chicago (for howlin' wolf)." Heck, there is even a musical about this great city called "Chicago."

So really, what is so great about Chicago?

On October 7, 1871, October experienced a devastating fire, one that engulfed 2,000 acres. The fires also destroyed more that 73 miles of roads, 120 miles of sidewalk, 2,000 lampposts, 17,500 buildings. I think the biggest thing that Chicago had to deal with was the reconstruction and how they were going to rebuild their city. During the time of the rebuilding stage, the city of Chicago build the first skyscraper in 1885. In "Chicago," Sandburg personifies Chicago to be a be tall,strong man. This depiction comes from the large skyscrapers that are found in Chicago.

In the 19th century, Chicago became an important railroad center. "The first railroad in Chicago was the Galena & Chicago Union, which was chartered in 1836 to build tracks to the lead mines at Galena in northwestern Illinois." Reference to this factor of Chicago is in "Chicago," "Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler."
Chicago's railroads helped with transporting goods throughout the United States. One of these goods was meat. Chicago was referred to as "Porkopolis." The city was granted the title in 1862. In Sandburg's poem he refers to Chicago "Hog Butcher of the World."

I think the main reason why Sandburg and Troupe wrote poems about Chicago is because of the history of the city. The city has a great background and began leading other cities with its industrial background.

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