Looking

Last week’s session started with reading ‘Bone Flute’ by Doireann Ní Ghriofa (“a new sound sings”) as a hint of what the focus would be for this week’s assignment and of what the final session is going to be in two session’s time. In preparation for that last session, I actually started by employing the old fashioned teaching method of transcription, getting them to write out the poem on paper as I read it out. Then, using this idea of reciting with backs to each other in this article https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2018/01/03/how-spoken-poetry-is-transforming-english-classes.html we made a lot of noise and became even more familiar with the poem.

The focus of the week was objects, as in looking closer at them: fitting in by not-so-careful design with the organising principle of ‘looking’ in this module: looking inward in week 1 at reasons for studying medicine; looking again/around in week 2 at how the anatomy lab & the donor remains seem when not viewed practically & visited instead outside of dissection time; looking beyond in week 3 at paintings in the National Gallery at how when prompted we can step outside ourselves and imagine other worlds & other lives.

So looking closer involved taking three poems as examples: John Kelly’s ‘Clawhammer’ (‘a plane that would skin you’), Colette Bryce’s ‘A Library Book’ (‘ones that opened wide with creaks/like tomes that wizards possessed’) & Caitriona O’Reilly’s ‘Netsuke’ (‘resembles/water dripping over//a stone lip/in the stone garden’), and seeing how each poet scrutinised the objects that were preoccupying them, and thereby generated a vocabulary of description; and also used the objects for their thematic purposes; and even related them formally to their themes.

We then visited the old anatomy department and were treated to a slide show of some of the many objects being studied and catalogued there by Siobhan Ward. The students were then allowed to wander around and each choose an object (or more than one) to focus on for their writing assignment.

This week looking even closer will open at the microscope of Miroslav Holub: ‘Here too are dreaming landscapes,/lunar, derelict …’

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