Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Analyzing Texts - Continued

Dear All,

I would like to invite you all to share your thoughts on one (or more) of the three texts listed below.
Please write down your own comments FIRST and THEN read what others have written about the same text. This will help you
1) post your own unique approach to the text and
2) learn more about the text in question by also looking at it through someone else's eyes.
Please feel free to comment on what other people have posted to get a real discussion going.

Our goal: to approach the three texts from different directions and angles. Since we are all unique, we necessarily have a unique way of interacting with a text. In fact, each of us has MANY unique ways of interacting with the SAME text - since each time we interact with the text, the context is different, the situation is different, our mood is different and therefore the connections we make and the associations we bring to the text are different each time as well.

By thinking about the same text in different contexts - and by reading how other people understand the same text - we  gain a deeper understanding of the text because we will gradually become able to look at it  - more or less simultaneously - from different directions and through different  people's eyes.

What T.S. Eliot said in "Little Gidding" holds definitely true for the understanding of texts - and works of art as well as reality in general: only after we have walked around something and looked at it from all sides, can we begin to grasp it's meaning:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Here the three texts I would like us to explore:

Deepak Chopra, "Speech for Cinema for Peace"
This is the full version of the text.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī, "Only Breath" (translated by Coleman Barks)

Margaret Atwood, "Habitation"
Please note that this version contains one additional line that is omitted in most anthologies!

I think all three texts are wonderful texts and definitely worth some deeper exploration.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Creative Writing

Dear All,

Please share you creative work with us here!

Thank you,



Dear All,

One of my favorite quotes is the quote by Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." I wish every teacher and every student in this universe - from kindergarden to university - would live by this quote every day. Focusing on imagination also means focusing on creativity. And creativity, in my opinion, is the key to creating a better world.

Unfortunately, our present education system is trying to kill both imagination and creativity in the name of science and progress. Change is necessary - and some of the leading educators have meanwhile recognized the importance that creativity and imagination play today.

Please think about the topic yourself - and post links to important contributions about the importance of creativity and/or imagination. Please feel also free to comment on the topic yourself.


Voices for Change

Dear All,

In September 2011, some people started a global initiative called "100 Thousand Poets for Change." The idea behind: creating positive change in this world through poetry - and arts in general.

I think this initiative was an excellent starting point and would therefore like to invite you all to continue the project and use your voice - in combination with your heart, your body, your brain, and your imagination - to make a positive difference in the world. The world - and each individual who becomes happier and/or healthier thanks to you - will be grateful to you!

Thank you!


Earth Day Projects

Dear All,

Each year on April 22nd we are celebrating "Earth Day." I would like to invite all of you to come up with special Earth Day projects for that day - or any other day of your choice this spring.

Please post your projects and inspire others to join you with similar projects. After all, creating a more sustainable world should be everybody's top priority....


Cultural & Academic Events in Greater Vancouver

Dear All,

Please feel also free to post cultural & academic events that might be of interest to others.

Examples are: concerts, literary readings, art shows, conferences, talks, performances, movies, cultural celebrations, special sports events, workshops.

Here some links you may wish to check out:

Happy posting!


Dragons in Art & Literature

Dear All,

As you all know, 2012 is the year of the Dragon - and Dragons have been very popular in various cultures, in particular in art and literature as well as in movies. I thought it might be nice to honor this powerful myth creature by putting a few links together to stories, poems, movies, as well as images about Dragons.  Of course, you are also very welcome to create your own Dragon art in words and images here.

Please enjoy!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ways of Writing

1. Genres

A poem is different from a novel or a newspaper article - and a novel is different from a play or an academic essay or an ad. In a way, the genre already determines many aspects of the writing. However writers have also always tried to undermine the existing conventions as well as to redefine genres in new ways according to their time, culture, and concrete situation. Most good writing does NOT follow a given recipe. In fact, experimenting with different genres often produces very interesting - and innovative - results. Experimenting with different genres can also be, of course, a lot of fun. Just try it out: pick your favorite genre - and write something in it - and modify or break all the rules you wish to modify or break in the process. Have fun playing! And please feel free to post your pieces here!  (Optional!) Thank you! 

2. Sub-Genres

Most genres can be subdivided into sub-genres. The sub-genres of poetry, for example, include: haiku, ghazal, renga, sonnet, villanelle, ode, elegy, ballad, limerick, and free verse.

Like many other genres, essays come in various forms as well. Among the forms most widely used are:
1) The High-School Essay
2) The Academic Essay
3) The LIterary Essay
4) The General-Interest Essay

For a brief characteristic of each of these 4 forms, please see:

Please surf the internet a bit and find one (or more) interesting and/or inspiring academic essay or general-interest essay and post the link here in this section so that others can read that particular essay as well. Thank you!

3. Modes of Discourse

Very popular in writing classes: a focus on the Modes of Discourse. If you are unfamiliar with them, please see:

If you feel like doing some more,  please write a passage in each mode (or at least in some of them) and post your work here! (optional)

Thank you!