Sunday, February 10, 2019

Richard II: Assignment (Act V)

Well, we are reaching the bitter end of this play. This week I am assigning you the entire final act, and I'm hoping that you'll pull together some thoughts about the experience of existing inside both the play as a whole and this denouement. Does the ending change your feelings about Richard or about any of the other characters? Did the act of reading the play influence your thoughts about how an artist might approach a task, or how that task might shift during the process of creation: think language, story structure, characterization, and such? How does your engagement with a work such as this one affect your daily life? We'll reconvene next Sunday to share thoughts.

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So yesterday's love-poem workshop turned out to be wonderful. My class was small but extremely engaged, and we were invited to not only meet together inside the Wadsworth-Longfellow House (Henry's childhood home) but to wander around it, to sit and write in any rooms we liked. The house was not open to the public yesterday: we were the only ones there. The blinds were closed, the light was dim, the sound of the house was private to itself. I sat in the kitchen, in front of the cold fireplace with its iron pots and tongs, its laundry boiler, the willowware on the dresser, the child's rocking horse still and silent, and worked on a draft. I worked on a second draft in the dining room, and discovered, to my pleasure, that the Longfellows also used their dining room as a library, just like Tom and I do. The experience was so enjoyable . . . and apparently, according to the Maine Historical Society education coordinator who hired me for this gig, it's the society's first foray into making connections between the house and contemporary poets. I was all "You ought to have a poet in residence! You ought to be getting contemporary poets to suss out links between their work and Longfellow's! You ought to . . . !" And she was all "Yes Yes Yes!" To this point the house has been primarily presented as a period relic, but there are so many possibilities for enlivening the poetry link. It was exciting to be there, experimenting with that connection.

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