VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Spot Collaboration - Textual Artifact

Standing and Working
We began today's spot collaboration by doing a sort of "mad lib": Students were asked to give examples of the following things: food, animal, vacation spot, type of transportation, celebrity, geographical feature, time of day,  holiday, occupation, and action. I wrote down the first response to each word that grabbed my ear. (And seemed in good taste. For "action" I didn't alas, choose "punch someone in the face.)

I put these responses aside and then read aloud some list-laden texts: stanzas five & six of Marianne Moore's "The Steeple-jack"; Joshua 18:21-28; George Herbert's poem "Prayer [I]"; and part of chapter 4 of The Great Gatsby. I also played "I Am a Grocery Bag," by They Might Be Giants. [As I'm writing this, I'm thinking of many other possibilities I could have shared.]

Mostly Sitting and Working
After a brief discussion of the "poetry" of lists, I used the students' earlier responses as the basis for some Google image searches. I put on the screen the first result from each search: chocolate, badger, Hawaii, mule, Shia Labeouf, canyon, sinkhole, morning, Boxing Day, dentist, running. As each image in turn flashed on the screen, the students had twenty to forty seconds to write any phrases, sentences, or words that came to mind. Finally, the students formed three-person groups and were asked to use the words they wrote down as a word bank to make a textual, list-like object. The aim was to make something somewhat coherent, and to attend to sound for any revisions they made before sharing, aloud, what they made. Below are some of the results. [They were read beautifully. The text alone doesn't capture this.]


Daniel & Ashley

poor little guy, carrying the human load
carrying distance
lost wet poverty
white and brown
ugly depending on who you are talking to

uncomfortable clutter

the masses scare me
always avoid direct eye contact
fuzzy fog
unrequited love

you were great in holes
khaki-colored minerals
you are dangerous
I miss you



creation commodifed.

- Katelyn Seitz, Reina Berumem, Lauren Higgins


anteater tranquility


baby face

gold bricks
LA looks
yacht club
Tyra Banks

Ghengis Khan
mass production

anteater tranquility
Pinocchio's revenge

roid rage
muscle skunk

mall of America
the underworld
the zebra and the pea

I need anteater tranquility

- Stevi Daniels, Gaven Heim, Aaron Young Smith


Krista had just arrived in the Newark airport for her first trip to America.  Her cousin Diane picked her up at the terminal in her red Volvo. 
To her sister’s question, “What do you think of America so far?” Krista replied:
There’s a high possibility I could die here!  Rite Aid, shinsplints, police tape, sticky hands, sad Shia, desert climate, my lost shaker of salt, mountains on stilts, No! No! No! No!”
            “Wonderful,” said Diane.  “Did you buy anything in the airport?”

It’s a good place to catch a disease: trenchcoats, humanity, glistening sweat!  ‘Where is your extra large undergarment section?’ ‘Give me that blender!’ ‘Meep meep!’ ‘I’m fast, I’m not slow!’ headlights, hair gel, frosted tips, Spaghetti Western, clay, ‘Mom I wanna go home now!’”

            “Superb,” said Diane.  “What do you want to see while you’re in America?”

Jingle All the Way, beans, yo-yos, 90s-era Justin Timberlake, the south, San Andreas fault, trapezoid, caverns like a cylinder, luxury fur, Shrek 2, the tower of Babel, a pile of bricks, bricks, high winds, tourists and time travel, Molehill Mountain, the only survivor (he knew how to swim!), suntans, javelina!”

            “Oh wow,” said Diane.  “Your English has improved so much!  Have you been practicing any other phrases?”

Hi doctor, you should numb me up!  Your teeth are so clean, why are you at a dentist?  Hell yeah they’re fake!  My legs hurt!  Look at these beautiful shapes I can make!  Even the whites of his eyes were sorry!  Where are you, Mom?  P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way Sydney! Tumbleweed icing!  Ukraine cinderblocks!  Checkerboard bushes!  Expensive armpit doesn’t seem real!  Ants are for kids!  White-white!  Godzilla!!!”

            “Mmhmm,” said Diane.  

- Joshua Patch, Nico Hernandez, Lit Odom


Walking majestic through the fog,
Leading down into the abyss,
Magnum opus of fallen angels,
Judged by God, pigs in a pen,
Time freeze
Too bad they don't die.

Black Friday; all clothes match on 
The Road to Hell; 
A dark chasm leading down;
Conglomerations of tourists, 
Manipulated; packs on their backs;
Sexy dentists; youth and beauty
Brigade; children screaming
I transform! I transform!
Love rejects no environment.

Who are you? The travel agency told me: Super Human;
Christ's aura; "God"; I look so
Good running the path to the bottom.
Judgment has no security guards.

- Kent Reister, Jake Anderson, Josué Luna


next to hell
falling saint, deep and unknown power, ancient worshipers,
diverse wreckage, hungry people, precarious king, blue suns,
bristled aliens, dark desert towers; colonnade of korah, stacked
with light,
long journey's end

- Katherine Baker, Alison Evans, Daniel Larsen

Is that a Dragon?

Awe and terror
A majestic contrast--white and dark
Warmth in winter
Orange hue; blue saturation
Pearly whites in the dirt.
Fearful paradise. Gold.
Stubborn glamor
Rugged beauty, looks unreal
Crisp eyes. Edges-depth
Perfectly science fiction.
We wonder. 

- Victoria Van Vlear, Alyssa Martin, Nicole Rinde


Florida Keys
summer in the South 
sparse grass, cool sun 
pools of sunny water
reflections ripple
sad, sad child actor

White teeth, clear eyes
tan sweaty face
contrast strength & health
corny, posed, gloss
long-faced with doe eyes
light & dark, rich & nutty--the middle ground
bottomless broken layers

A little too pleading
a little too shallow
no one knew
can't get full
but still that stare;
L.A. is dying & no one cares
he was hella-pissed
carrying all his worldly possessions on his back 

- Olivia Hays, Jeanne Halstead, Allison Winters


Just do it.

Taste the deep dark buried in the dirt, scratchy lava rocks
Paint the very roots of the Earth a new foggy yellow
Teeter Topple up and down
The sirens are going off!
Descend extending angles
Due of starvation in a bottomless pit.
Look mid-stride ahead through desert and waste.
I can see my childhood from here!
Saudi Arabia is a bad place to get a divorce
False while galore shining but with what?
Globalism, materialism, 50% off all Christmas decorations.
Made worse by pretense of perfection.
Hit me with your
Vacant almost smile 
And glimmering eyes so welled up with moisture.
Open your mouth and say "That'd be noisy."
Imprecise snuffling, smelling for a friend
Leave the penny
Warm the ears listening thing
Jurassic light caught reflection to walk on
Standing alive but only visually.
How'd you get here?

- Connor Collins, Nathan Fan, Lori Lusk


My neighbors are
blank face:
screaming squares,
sniveling chess pieces in 
Satan's crawl space.
They're roadtrip camping,
cookie crumble cocain consumers,
trudging along and left tethered.
Mary: fake spray tan--
caught in the act with 
Peter; hunger and crouch.
Joseph, trying not to smile and
acting all grown up:
sunshine hair, garbage make up--
lines up unrequited love and enjoys it too much.
Rats in draw pipes dig
beyond the reach of human arms,
pretentious but lost and narrow.
These are modeling ancient people.

- Brooke Dodson, Michael Asmus, Lisl Ruckert 
Nothing But Sitting and Working

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