she falls from madness
with such grace
over another glass of wine
she moves in primal rhythm
on the edge of another history lesson
a bird’s eye view
of her paper retreat
housed in glass
peels labels from a deck of cards
tries not to talk
into the mirror
so what if she believes infinity is a number
or event horizons sometimes lie
what’s not to love about freedom
and the unborn story of transformation
Lana Maht Wiggins
from her book Notes from Refuge
Plain View Press, 2008
reprinted with permission of the poet
by Laurie A. Williams
This poem will work well for a discussion of metaphor and extended metaphor or conceit.
Before reading the poem, have students discuss what they know about metaphors and how they operate. Make a list on the board of what metaphors do and how they are created.
Then either introduce or reinforce the concept of extended metaphor and also conceit.
Pass the poem out to students. Read it aloud so that the poem can be heard and seen.
Have students individually or in pairs go through the poem and look for metaphors.
What is the tenor (the literal subject of the metaphor) and the vehicle (the figurative connection, the likeness, the thing that is compared to the subject). Tenor and vehicle may be new terms for your students, if so, you may want to briefly discuss them. For better visualization for my students, I always draw a car (vehicle) on the board with the “likeness” word and an opera tenor in the car with a speech (song) bubble with the literal subject written in. For the simile, “My love is like a red, red rose,” I would have the car with rose written on it and the tenor singing love.
After going over the entire poem, have students decide if this poem is a conceit or not. Have them list reasons why or why not.
For a project, have students create vehicle and tenor posters of famous metaphors that can be posted around the room or the school. Or have students pull a tenor out of a hat or bowl and a vehicle out of another hat or bowl and then create a good metaphor for those two random object and create a poster.
For a writing activity, have students write a conceit poem.
by Laurie A. Williams
Stuart Kaufman in an NPR article titled “Science and Poetry” dated October 4, 2010 states, “science needs art to supply the metaphors that generate new science.” He was referencing Jonah Lehrer’s article titled “The Future of Science . . . Is Art?” from Seed Magazine published January 18, 2008.
Begin a class discussion on the above quote. Does science need art?
Pass out a copy of the poem to all students or to students in pairs.
Read the poem aloud in class.
Have students discuss as a whole or in pairs with a duolog* what an “event horizon” is and why this poem is titled with this term.
Have them include specific words, phrases, and lines in their discussions and/or duologs.
*a duolog is a conversation between two students that occurs on paper. One student will write a question or observation about the subject, and the other student will answer with an observation and then provide another observation or another question. The duolog conversation can take as long or as little as the teacher likes; 15-20 minutes is a good time frame.