Week 54: College Reading and Writing: Maggie Smith

Week 54: College Reading and Writing: Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith: Annotating, Summarizing, Analyzing, Imitating

to annotate: to make notes on something to help you understand it better
to summarize: to put something in your own words
to analyze: to consider a question on the text, providing supporting examples from the text
to imitate: to create an original piece of writing based on something you have read

Exercise: Read and annotate

1. Read the poem and response out loud and underline any words you need to look up
2. Write any questions you have in the margins or in your notebook
3. Put tricky parts into your own words in notes in the margins or in your notebook

Exercise: Questions for comprehension of the poem

1. How is the speaker comparing herself to a realtor?
2. What does the speaker mean by “a real shithole” (Smith)?
3. What are some of the “thousand delicious, ill-advised ways” you think the speaker has shortened her life (Smith)?

Exercise: Summarize the poem

Write a paragraph summarizing the poem with quotations, in-text citation, and a Work Cited Page.

Example too-short summary, incorporating quotation and in-text citation:

Brenda Hillman’s poem “The Family Sells the Family Gun” tells the story of siblings getting rid of their father’s gun after “his ashes...were lying” (87). The speaker questions what it means to own and get rid of a gun in America, saying, “[w]e couldn’t take it to the cops even in my handbag” (Hillman 88).

Work Cited Page (for today’s poem)

Smith, Maggie "Good Bones," Waxwing magazine (Issue IX, Summer 2016)

Exercise: Analysis

Question for analysis: What do you think about the dishonesty the speaker reveals in the poem?  Does dishonesty contribute to making the world “at least half terrible”(Smith)?  Why or why not?

Exercise: Imitation

Write a poem about useful lies; they could be lies you have told, or lies you have been told.

  1. Summary of Poem                   
  2. Analysis of Poem        
  3. Imitation of Poem       

About this class:
Your notebooks belong to you; you can write first drafts in them, and make notes for yourselves.  To turn in homework, revise your work in a blue book or sheets of paper you can get from your instructor. In this class, you are welcome to submit homework for a grade. If it’s not strong enough to earn an A, I’ll give you some comments to help you revise it, and let you do it over again. You have as many chances as you want to complete and perfect the work in this class, and you are welcome to do more than one week’s worksheet for homework at a time; ask me for sheets you’ve missed. Students who complete 15 weeks of graded assignments and a longer paper can qualify for college credit. When you get close to completing 15 weeks, I’ll help you get started on your longer paper.

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.