Archive | FALL2015 ENGLISH 1A SRJC RSS feed for this section

Final Prompt for Fall…..

14 Dec

Bonjour, tout le monde!  I thought as one last artful activity, or “credit opportunity”, we’d return to creative writing, telling a story.. but, ah!  You don’t have 4-5 pages of expository luxury to expel your narrative.  With this invitation, you only have 300 words, not a drop more!  Tell a story, show a story, but get to the point, and focus on singularity, not too many things, or people, like Hemingway with the dark-haired beauty, or Kerouac with Alf, or Wolff with the Bullet, Ms. Plath in her bath with everyone dissolving…

Be mindful with your words and how many you use…  REMEMBER, don’t go past 300!  This is very much an exercise in Flash Fiction, or micro-fiction some would say.

Have fun, enjoy your writing!  And, keep writing!  Even and especially after this final prompt.  If you don’t write, no story’s told.

Merci, and I’ll see you all around campus.

Loyally.  Yours.  Always,


Rubric, Focus Paper

10 Dec

As I discussed in class today, the final writing you submit for the semester IMG_9869will be evaluated in ten areas.  All of which I went over in class today, and are enumerated and explained below.  Above anything, and everything, just write from your convictions, from where you feel comfortable, and don’t second-guess yourself.  When you start to doubt yourself, and let yourself tire and give up, you’re infecting your writing.  Let it go too far, and the writing will be terminally compromised.  So write well, and enjoy…..  -Mike

(each dimension below is worth 5 points)

1 –  Title:  A creative, relevant, engaging, and non-cliché title that serves as the first words of your essay, and an orientation as to what we’re about to read.

2 – Introductory Paragraph:  The first paragraph of the essay which contains the thesis, yes (a thesis written out, not just lazily inferred or hinted), but equally as crucial provides a context for the argument, and adequate lead-in to your idea’s body.  This paragraph is where you station yourself in your idea and clearly let the readers know where you’re going to take them.

3 – Body Paragraphs/Paragraph Balance:  These body paragraphs not only support your thesis with strong examples and explanation of the examples, but should read smoothly, with a compliment to each other and provide strong structure for your position.  No paragraph should be underdeveloped, nor excessive in length.  I know, that doesn’t help.  Use your best judgement.  There should be a fluidity and a musical sense when reading though these body paragraphs before reaching the conclusion.  Think of the body paragraphs and the balance they’re to demonstrate as a foundation, a core, a heart.  Keep that heart in the healthiest of conditions!

4 – Voice:  Confident, authoritative, with definite language.  Don’t qualify yourself!  But, don’t come across arrogantly, either.  Assertiveness balanced with civility and humility is what I, and your future “professors”, are looking for (and if they’re not, they should be).

5 – Transitions:  Logical and untroubled connectedness, paragraph to paragraph.  Nothing random, or unexpected, or removed from paper’s principle and guiding intent.

6 – Mechanics:  Oh, the fun stuff!  Yes, it’s exhaustive, but truly, colleagues and friends, it makes you a stronger, more lethal, writer.  So.. punctuation, capitals, grammar, syntax, verb tense, spelling (as spellcheck doesn’t find it all!), indenting…  Give the paper several reads and examine every word, sentence and paragraph.  You have to be especially stringent with your paper and yourself to find mechanical inequities.  And when you do, you’ll be a stronger and more versatile writer.

7 – Conclusion:  Closure.  No loose ends.  Introduce nothing new.  And, no provocative or antagonistic rhetorical questions.  Everything should have been answered by now.  By the conclusion, we as readers should have a clear and uncompromised understanding of your position.

8 – MLA:  In-text citations, quoting, bla bla bla…

9 – Works Cited Page:  2-4 outside sources, MLA format (all information), numbered and in alphabetical order.

10 – Word Choice/Variety:  Play with words, use different words, make language your own.  Use synonyms, yes, but don’t be disingenuous with your language–  In other words, don’t sound like you’re reciting from a thesaurus.  Make your words reflect and convey mood, passion, authority and confidence from you as the scholar, the writer, the investigative journalist.  Display a mastery with language and you’ll pocket the 5 points for this dimension.

(Total – 50 points)      

And that’s the semester.  Time moves quicker than we want it to.  But all we can do is appreciate each moment as its own standalone piece.  There’s more to be written and more to be said, expressed and lived.  More to be read from us as writers.

Enjoy your writing and editing till final submission, and we’ll soon speak, and write just a bit more next week, together.

À La Tienne, votre instructeur,


Week 16… The Focus Paper

30 Nov

IMG_4064-1Your Voice..

Your Identity…

Your Intentions….

On the page.

Hemingway has a way of

18 Nov

intriguing and frustrating us with his language.  I suppose the frustration would come from the exhausting sentences and their proximity to the more curt march-like clauses, then we have the intrigue of him, and where this story is going, and what he’s going to show us about this place he’s chasing, Paris, what there is to the Feast.  And, frankly, how does he afford to live like this, just walking around café to café, writing and observing people and living as this libertine penner?

And, Ms. Stein’s influence on Hemingway… your thoughts?  Do you sense any mood change in Hem when he’s around Ms. S?  Some would call their relationship abusive, dysfunctional, reciprocal, and, at times, just plain awkward.  Like when she addresses the issue of ‘inaccroachable’ (25), how Hem says he didn’t agree, but “I did not believe in arguing with my elders.” Is this meant to be a passive insult at Ms. S?  OR, is there something deeper, more elemental and combustive going on?

And, the topic of food, the cuisine, the sensory appeal of Paris that Hem shares with us.  What does that do to the read, to this memoir, if it is in fact such.  We have all this mention of Literature and Art and culture, but somehow you could argue something’s missing.  Some centrality… what?  What’s missing in this feast Papa’s prepared for us?  And, if you feel nothing’s missing, or it’s too early to tell, then fine!  Share your observations with us and share where the strengths are in this next reading (through ch. 13).  I said last meeting that Hemingway is taking us on a tour through HIS Paris, so what does he observe and what do you observe in those observations he shares?

HW:  Read through Chapter 13 (page 100 in the edition I ordered to the bookstore..), and post a 250-300 word reaction, addressing your observations in the text, and if something’s missing or if he’s so far provided a coherently structured manuscript.



16 Nov


We have an author that has more conviction than most, but somehow demonstrates vulnerability and a certain sensitivity that’s trounced out by boldness, this masculine paradigm.  He writes in discipline as well as in between excesses and indulgences.  He’s proverbially aware of life, death, and their unmistakeable and irrefutable interconnection.  Reading his work, you can see he admires everything around him, everything and everyone.  It’s all material.  It can all be on a page.  Which is similar to the other authors we’ve read but with this author there’s more intensity.  And a stratosphere of more confidence, near cockiness in his compositions.  When reading his sentences, try to determine which clauses convey strength, and which deliver a sense of vulnerability.  This will help determine who and what we’re reading.  I’ve said before that ‘Hem’ is his own genre, one of only a few American authors that have achieved such, I offer.  Similarly, Hemingway wants us to experience truth, the truth of where he is, what he sees, hears, tastes, touches, smells, feels, wonders and loves.  A soldier on the page, in his sentences and in life, while still visibly sensitive, vulnerable, and dare I direct.. ‘feminine’.  Let me know if you see what I see in the Feast.  And if not, what do you see, what are you observing?  Because, quite frankly, this memoir or novel, or just ‘book’, is all about observation, life and appreciating the day.  Appreciating the Feast itself in the savory city of Paris.  Prendre plaisir!”


2 Nov

Plath.  The multiple Plaths.

How many can you find?

Is there strength in this multiplicity?

Creative Writig Project– 

News.. Opinion.. Final Writing for semester



What do stories do?

We’re full of stories–


9/16/15 Meeting — the draft

16 Sep

Drafts are a funny thing, I’ve always thought.  Hemingway said the first draft of anything’s shit, but I disagree–  OR, it doesn’t have to be.  For today, let’s focus on the feels of the papers; how the topics are introduced, how they’re supported and how you incorporate not only evidence from the text but your outside sources as well.  And then, how you wrap it up.


And Mr. Wolff?  What are your thoughts on his attitude, thus far?  Granted, we only read two of his short works, but there’s an obvious presence on the page, wouldn’t you say? 

Let’s go through his stories, and see what observations in his prose should be noted…

SRJC: 1A — “Plunge” (p. 102)

31 Aug

Week 3, and we get further into this book and Kerouac’s spiral.  Last week I propelled a lot of questions out in regards to why he does this to himself and why we as readers should care, why this book deserves a place in Literary history, or in the hands of modern readers.  So…..  Where are the gems for you all as readers?  Where is Kerouac teaching you something, having you maybe think about your own life and how you see things, moments and people, around you?

Kerouac knows what he’s doing, which raises the question of awareness in this novel and of and in his character; the alcohol, the old habits, and the ambitions of a former “Beatnik”.  He’s frustrated as a character, and as readers we can only sympathize, or even empathize with his character’s angst, but at the same time we may find ourselves becoming frustrated with him and his actions and words throughout this novel…  And the obsession with Cody, comparing him to a Greek God in one scene, and showing us there’s always something or someone or a collection of someone’s he’s following.  We could call him “sick”, Duluoz, and in many ways he is.  But the focus should be on recovery, or the possibility of recovery, getting better, standing up straight (as many times he mentions himself on the ground, ‘groaning’).

And more struggles with belief in something, “…I conceived of myself as a special solitary angel sent down as a messenger from Heaven to tell everybody or show everybody by example that their peeking society was actually the Satanic Society and they were all on the wrong track.” Interesting, this notion of the peekers, which puts in a moody perspective Mr. Kerouac’s/Duluoz’s paranoia, and lack of estimation in Humanity.

So, for today, we return to the notion of, 1, Personhood (wholeness of the individual; at peace), 2, Spirituality of Kerouac or lack thereof, and 3, the feel of the text.  How does the text itself feel and how does it make you feel as a reader?

So for today:

Let’s write

Let’s find evidence

Let’s talk about the text and about what Kerouac is showing us, and TELLING us (maybe telling us to do something with our own lives, regardless of time or era, or generation…)

Let’s discuss areas of focus going forward in the book, for example ‘his writing style’, ‘mood’, ‘imagery’, ‘general tone’, ‘the autobiographical dimension to this novel’, of you would call it a novel.  Then, UNIVERSALITY!  What makes any book immune to time and reader laziness…

10 min – writing

5 min – open mic

20 min – discussion

20 min – group

20 min – cooking of focus areas; questions

10 min – In class reading…

10 min – close, WAW’s…

HW: Read from 113 (ch 24) through 142 (ch 30)

-No typed reaction due; scribble intently in your Comp Books; make the topic your own, look further into his character; start forming your conclusions.

SRJC 1A, Monday 8/24/15 Meeting

26 Aug

WORD OF DAY:  Gallimaufry — ‘a confused jumble or medley of things’.jackkwithcat

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “…listening to the prompts of your own nature…” (Allen Ginsberg, on Kerouac’s writing style, 1982 Naropa lecture)

– The thought of Poetry.. poetry in this “novel” if you could call it such..  Poetic attributes to Kerouac’s prose.

– Categorizing his mood.  Is it beyond a simple category, some convenient tag?

– “One fast move or I’m gone…” What does this mean?  What do you hear in that line?

– “…this dismal cell, there’s my hopeful rucksack…”

– Interesting, the whole placement and reality of a “survival kit”.

– “…so I jump up, do my headstand first to pump blood back in my brain…”

– “…but something’s wrong…”

– All these passages create and convey a very intimate insight and feel for his state of being, in his mind and about his Person; fear, anguish, despair, but still a bit of urgency. – No conventional punctuation or many closed sentences… why?

– “A slimy green dragon racket, in the bush– An angry war that doesn’t want me pokin’ around…”

– “…AM ALONE…the religious vestal lighting of the beautiful kerosene lamp…”

– “…write these sea sounds…”

– “…my holy cup…” What are his beliefs?  His past?  His values?  Consider the Buddhist consistency to his attitude and references.

– In many parts, this book, novel or memoir, serves as a meditation, but just as well a re-evaluation of Kerouac’s/Duluoz’s Self.. to acquire and maintain TRUE Personhood.

– If he’s searching for something, some THING, then what?

– Is this an attempt at recovery?  To make better the Self, or what’s left of it?

W.A.W. from me:

Stop writing and it

stops.  The story stops.  We all

stop.  Nothing to read.

SRJC 1A, a note to…..

18 Aug

So day one’s done, logged,IMG_7979-0 what be.  What are you thinking?  Tell us more about yourself, if you wish.  What do you want from this term and our discussions, and more importantly what do you demand of yourself?  What are you going to force yourself to do?  The semester’s story just began to be written, so now we accelerate into the pages of our term, and meet writers that have so much to share with us in the matter of Life, triumphs and falls, struggles and strengths, pains and recoveries, and some conditions that simply have no panacea yet the author felt the need to deliver the reality by way of page.

Enjoy your evenings, tomorrows, and I’ll see you on campus come Wednesday.

Bonne Nuit,