Opening Spaces of Possibility: The Teacher as Bricoleur
Krantzman has told his students that he wants themto read deeply—matters of voice and breath as repre-sented in literature, especially poetry, are content tobe learned throughout the year.As a frequent visitor to Mr. Krantzman’s class-room in the role of researcher, I have come to real-ize that engaging students in the study of poetry asreaders, writers, and performers is not a unit of studybut rather a yearlong immersion that begins withtexts he offers to each student and that is sustainedthrough engagements that are woven through theyear as it unfolds. During the school year, it is likelythat he will place poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca,Lucille Clifton, Robert Creeley, e.e. cummings, PaulLaurence Dunbar, Yusef Komunyakaa, Li-Young Lee,Molly Peacock, Gary Snyder, Sekou Sundiata, andWilliam Carlos Williams—to name but a few—intostudents’ hands. Likely, he will receive poems fromstudents that they offer as important art. In helpingstudents to shape poetry, he will teach them to namethe poetic—such as repetition, rhythm, meter, andfigurative language—in other types of print and non-print texts, as this is a classroom where the idea of genre is purposely blurred. Students’ success as po-ets rests not only in the direct poetry instruction Mr.Krantzman provides, but also in the way he guidesstudents to seek and name the poetic across multipletypes of texts. For example, Mr. Krantzman and hisstudents study essays by Wendell Berry, Bill Bryson,Annie Dillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Barry Lopezin an effort to better understand how these essayistscompose. Students will use techniques such as foundpoetry (Dunning & Stafford, 1992) and sketch-to-stretch (Harste, Short, & Burke, 1988) as ways todeepen their comprehension and understanding of a writer’s craft. “I want students to take the readingstrategies they employ while reading fiction, such asimaging, and use it to help them make sense of essay,”Mr. Krantzman explains, emphasizing the reusablenature of things learned.By January, students will have read
Haroun and the Sea of Stories
(Rushdie, 1991) and closely studiedaspects of the writer’s craft that are based on Prose’s(2006) work (see Figure 1 for a description of the as-signment). Mr. Krantzman explains, “Students areamazed at Rushdie’s control as a writer and his use of
Figure 1 Reading Slowly: StudyingSalman Rushdie’s
Harounand the Sea of Stories
From Prose, F. (2006).
Reading like a writer: A guide for people who love books and for those who want to write them.
New York: HarperCollins.
During the next few weeks as you read
Haroun and the Sea of Stories
you will be asked to notice and comment on Salman Rushdie’s craft. Youwill be posting responses to what you read online and posting a reply toanother classmate’s response.
Chapters 1–2: Words
“Words are the raw material out of which literature is crafted...readingquickly for plot, for ideas, even for psychological truths that a storyreveals—can be a hindrance when the crucial revelations are in thespaces between words, in what has been left out” (Prose, 2006, pp. 16,19).1. Isolate a small section (a paragraph) from the first or second chapterand examine Rushdie’s choice of words closely.2. Use a dictionary to help you trace the origin of a word or two.3. Post your response online.4. Respond to a posting.
Chapters 3–4: Sentences
What do you notice about Rushdie’s crafting of sentences in Chapters 3and 4? Locate one or two beautifully crafted sentences from one of thesechapters. What makes them so appealing? Look at how each sentencewas made (part by part).1. Post a response by recording the sentences you have identified andexplaining why these sentences are so appealing. What exactly hasRushdie done?2. Respond to a posting.
Chapters 5–6: Paragraph
Choose a section from Chapter 5 or Chapter 6 and notice how Rushdieshapes the paragraphs, deciding where to end one and begin another.As you ponder this, consider what Francine Prose says about theparagraph: “The paragraph could be understood as a sort of literaryrespiration, with each paragraph as an extended—in some cases, veryextended—breath. Inhale at the beginning of the paragraph, exhale atthe end” (p. 66).1. Post your response. What did you notice about Rushdie’sparagraphing?2. Respond to a posting.
Chapters 7–8: Narration
Who is telling the story, and who might Rushdie have imagined islistening to the story of Haroun? Take some time as you read Chapters 7and 8 to ponder these questions.1. Post your response. Who is telling the story? Who is listening?2. Respond to a posting.
Chapters 9–11: Gesture
What small physical actions, often unconscious or semireflexive, do younotice happening in Chapters 9, 10, and 11? How are the gestures youhave identified important to the story being told and heard?1. Post your response.2. Respond to a posting.
Chapter 12: Details
Francine Prose writes, “Details aren’t only the building blocks with whicha story is put together, they’re also the clues to something deeper, keysnot merely to our subconscious but to our historical time” (p. 207).In this chapter, how does Rushdie’s use of details echo our own historicaltime? Record your thinking.1. Post your response.2. Respond to a posting.