Poetry Issue 16

Issue #16 : January-June 2012

      Methodology: “Witchgrass” by Louise Glück

      Description. In this exercise, participants will be encouraged to offer a different point of view on a subject using an imagined speaker

      Objective. To write a persuasive contrary position by an unfamiliar speaker or an inanimate object

      Materials. Photograph of the witchgrass and a description of the plant’s characteristics


      1. These are some guide questions that might be used to start discussion of the poem.
        1. Who is the narrator/speaker in the poem?
        2. Who is the speaker addressing? What does he/she seem like?
        3. What is the tone of the speaker?
        4. Why do you think that is the tone of the speaker?

      2. Show the students a photograph of the witchgrass and describe its characteristics. Continue the discussion in terms of how this new information affects their previous understanding of the poem.
        1. What is the usual dynamic/relationship between a gardener and weeds?
        2. What is the relationship here? How is it the same? How is it different?
        3. Are you sympathetic to the speaker? Why or why not?
        4. How do you feel about the gardener?

      3. Discuss briefly with the students how in some rural areas in the Philippines, elders (parents and grandparents) talk of how the natural world (bodies of water, forests) claim children. These tales are used to scare children into proper behavior and their retelling endures to this day. Ask the students if they have heard of such stories and let one or two share what they know. Ask the students how they think those left behind—the loved ones—must feel after these mysterious abductions.

      4. Now, ask the students to put themselves in the shoes of the “abductor,” e.g., the lake, the forest, the river, etc. and to retell the abduction or explain the abduction from its point of view. Alternatively, the facilitator can also ask the students to identify seven to ten reasons for the mysterious abductions and start each line with either “Kumukuha ako ng tao sapagkat…” or “I take…”

      Note to instructor. This module touches on a variety of poetic elements and rhetorical devices, namely: persona, point of view, tone, diction, and cataloguing.

      Time allotment. One hour, broken down into 30 minutes for discussing the Glück poem, and 30 minutes for writing.

      For the copy of the poem WITCHGRASS, please click here.