Writers' Week '09

December 15, 2009
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I’m Glad I Didn’t Have to Pay for It – I Definitely Wouldn’t Have Afforded To

I feel extremely privileged to be able to attend such a great school that offers Writers’ Week. Some students may see it as an easy way to get out of doing class work, but it offers actually both a great opportunity to have fun and to learn many new things. For the past two years that I have seen Writers’ Week, especially this year, it has been an absolute blast.

Not because classes are boring – usually, but it feels nice to take a break from the old, regular routine and do something diverse for a change. With Writers’ Week, I can learn from both teachers and professionals, and students as well. Fact number one: repetition is good – great, in fact, but only in moderation and when necessary. With Jaclyn S.’s piece “Old Lady Hands,” the repetition of phrases such as “skin and bones,” “old lady,” and “rotten” really added to the depressed mood of the piece. However, hearing the same line nonstop is really tedious and dull. I got really bored at the end of the rap on Thursday when the same phrase was repeated over and over again. Well, that wasn’t the only reason. It would have helped a lot if I could understand the lyrics. I’m sure they were really good and had a lot of meaning, but I really couldn’t even make out what the rapper was saying…only that it was something about fire. Which leads me to fact number two: when in front of an audience, do not just read your work. Perform it – articulately. In cases such as Andrew R.’s poems, I really liked the depth and the message behind the poems, but he read them so quickly, that my poor brain barely comprehended. He didn’t give the audience enough time for the words to actually sink in, which is such a pity, because the poems themselves are really good, but the words just weren’t given due justice. What more, he didn’t recite. He read. It’s forgivable if he talked too fast due to nervousness, but no one likes being read to by a monotonous, mumbling voice. On the other hand, Jaclyn really embodied the worn-out tone of the little girl in her poem, with her tired, scratchy-sounding voice and the defiant and reluctant attitudes when the girl didn’t want to give up her treasure to the man made of “flesh and blood”. With her great vocal usage, I became immersed inside the story of the little girl and it all played out like a movie in my mind. A bit of description is nice to get the reader’s imagination going, but excessive details aren’t really necessary to produce imagery and write a great piece (fact number three). In fact, too much description can take away from the actual story and prevent the audience from making a connection to the work. Overall, I thought that Jamieson G.’s short story “The Sandwich” was fairly well written – it had a good plot, description, suspense, metaphors, similes, and all of that jazz. I had expected that the “emptiness” that the murderer felt after killing the victim would be because of moral consciousness, but instead, it turned out that he was hungry and ate the sandwich of the guy he just killed! Honestly, how could the murderer not have any sense of guilt? I thought that was a really wacky and amusing turn of events. However, with all of the description, the story probably would have been best read and not recited. After a while of listening to him describe in extreme detail the textures of the wooden cabinet by the murderer and the chair that the victim was sitting on, my mind started to wander and shut off. I stopped paying attention to the adjectives that he must have painstakingly written and only really perked up when the story actually moved along. Simone Elkeles even admits that she thinks description is boring and wastes time. Not having a lot of description, she says, leaves the reader with the ability to interpret the story in his or her own way and with that, the reader can connect with the book more. With those wise words, I conclude that works that have extreme amounts of description, in my opinion, are most effective when read. However, when people are listening to a recitation, it’s better to have short, direct language, as not to bore the audience. There are other ways, such as vocal performance and visual movements, which can add on to the imagery.

Writers Week wasn’t all about learning, thank goodness. I had so much fun listening to the different presentations. One of my absolute favorites of the week was Sal A. and John M.’s comedic duo act. I found it absolutely hilarious and really loved that their poem was like a dialogue exchange. It was nice to see the two different sides’ opinions on the same situations. And Sal’s happy, carefree tone as well as John’s tired, annoyed one made the skit even funnier. It was nice to see that they even spent time making T-shirts that fit with their poem’s subject about pandas. I also really liked how they didn’t just go up on stage to be crowd-pleasers but that their rhyming poem had a message of saving the panda’s natural habitat. At first, when Sal picked up the fake potted plant, I wondered what in the world they were planning to do. It was really clever of them to use it as a prop for bamboo. Another performance that I really liked was the one by Nathan Shumway. He has a great sense of humour and it was really funny that he poked fun at the teachers. I especially loved his description of the band teacher, Mr. Moore: “an over-caffeinated chimpanzee.” I have to say, it fits him perfectly to a T. Also, it was nice to see some variety. Unlike the other speakers, Nathan used the stage and walked around like an actual tour guide. It helped keep my interest up. He really got into character and acted out each one with the appropriate voice style. One example would be when at the boy’s part, Nathan exclaimed in a high-pitched voice, “Look, Mommy! The lizard can drink with its foot!” His vocal performance and movement made his presentation fun to listen to and watch.

Writers Week is one of my favorite times of the school year and one that I will always remember and probably be telling to my grandkids when I’m 97 years old. I’ve learned so many important things on how to write and present a work, that excessive repetition and description aren’t necessarily good things, and vocal presentation is extremely important when you want to keep an audience’s interest. Not only that, but I had a lot of laughs – probably the most in one class period than I’ve ever had so far, because of all the great speakers. So, thank you so very much, Mr. A, for making Writers Week possible!

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