WEEK 2: READING ASSIGNMENT The Poet’s From Totems to Hip-Hop,

Reading: Read the chapters “Images” and “Simile and Metaphor” in The Poet’s
Companion (85-103) before doing the writing assignments due on Friday (April 15).
READ: From Totems to Hip-Hop, section 2, “Men and Women,” 73 – 95.
Instructions for the weekly annotation are below. Annotation is due on Monday, April
18, to your instructor.
Week 2: Annotation Writing Assignment
Read the “Men & Women” section of From Totems to Hip-Hop (73-95). Choose one of
the longer poems to work with – 2 pages or more. Consider “Woman,” “The Brides
Come to Yuba City,” “Ringless,” “Bad Girl Blues” or another.
This week we are taking our OBSERVING a step forward by breaking down the process
into deliberate steps.
Please follow the directions carefully, without hurrying. Hurrying, or rushing to judge
some details as important and others not important, will undermine the purpose of the
exercise and make it difficult to learn from it.
The purpose here is to break down the observation process and deliberately notice
different kinds of details. It’s called “the method,” and it can be applied to any written
text. With some modification, it can be used to develop a response to a film, piece of art,
music, etc.
Take it slow.
Choose a poem to work with. Plan to spend at least an hour on the observing
stage of this process. A cup of tea might be helpful! 
2. Make a list of exact repetitions – identical or nearly identical words or details – and
note the number of times each repeats. Consider different forms of the same word
(run, ran, running) as exact repetitions. Skip generic tiny words (a, the, of), but don’t
neglect any words that carry meaning. To find repetitions, write the word as soon as
you notice a repetition and make check marks next to it as you go through the section
– how many times can you find it?
man xxxx
George xxx ring xxxxx
Then you can go back and count: Man (4), George (3), ring (5).
3. Make a list of repetitions of the same kind of detail or word. This is called a
strand, a grouping of similar kinds of words or details. For example, tree, vine,
plant, herb could be a strand, or hot, sun, boiling, bright. Be able to explain the
strand’s connecting logic, how the words are linked together. Most likely some of
the words from your “repetition” list will turn up here as well, as part of a strand.
white / silver / black / red / gold (colors)
Cocteau / Flaubert / Lorca / Dante / Browning (names of writers)
moon / silver / marble / mirror (hard surfaces)
marble / silver / jasper / jade / amber/ carnelian / gold (minerals)
4. Locate details or words that suggest binary oppositions, binaries or organizing
contrasts. For example: open/closed, polite/rude, growing/dying. Binaries need
not be opposites. They are pairs of words that are linked in a meaningful way,
perhaps in contrast, similarity, or differences of degree. Words from your first
two lists might turn up here again.
EXAMPLE: finger / body
peacock/ moon
white / black
George Washington / Cocteau
5. Look back at your lists. They should be pretty long. Identify the most interesting
or key details (key repletion, key strands, key binary) and highlight them.
Arrange your lists in some kind of order of importance, from most important to
least. Type up your lists if you haven’t yet.
6. To finish, choose just ONE detail (a repletion or a strand or a binary) that seems
especially significant. Write a healthy paragraph in which you explain your
choice. What does this detail reveal about the text? What have you noticed about
the poem that you didn’t see at first?
7. Submit your responses in a single document that includes:
o title of poem you worked with (in quote marks “Ringless”)
o list of repeated words
o list of strands (related words)
o list of binaries (pairs of words)
o your final detail paragraph.
This is another process based on an exercise in Writing Analytically, by David
Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen.