Poetry Issue 16

Issue #16 : January-June 2012

      Methodology: “12 ’O Clock News” by Elizabeth Bishop

      Description. Participants will use everyday objects as springboards for writing description. They will use various things familiar to them and find a way to relate these things together.

      Objectives. To describe using objective and subjective approaches.


      1. These are some guide questions that might be used to start discussion of the poem.

        1. Describe the parts of the poem.
        2. How do these parts relate to and/or illuminate each other?
        3. What do the descriptions reveal about the speaker in the poem?

      2. Working individually, participants must choose five to seven objects associated with a specific place (i.e., closet, kitchen counter), and write them down in the left column

      3. Participants then choose a character (i.e., doctor, soldier, reporter) and actions and places related to their chosen character. These elements make up the second column.

      4. At this point, participants can come up with a variety of work. Suggest that they limit each description to three sentences.

        1. Choose an object from the left column and imagine it as a landscape or a place associated with the character.
        2. Describe the objects in the first column using words and phrases associated with the chosen character.
        3. Find resemblances between places and actions in the second column, and the physical characteristics of the objects found in the first column. Describe these resemblances using the vocabulary of the character.

      Note to instructor. This module touches on a variety of poetic elements and rhetorical devices, namely: diction, imagery, point of view, persona, tone, and cataloguing. Instructors might want to pick two participants to read aloud Elizabeth Bishop’s “12 O’Clock News.” One participant reads the left column, another participant reads the right column. At the end of the writing period, participants can take turns reading the work and guessing the character and his/her attitude.

      Time allotment. One hour, broken down into 20 minutes for discussing the Bishop poem, 30 minutes for writing, 10 minutes for processing.

      For the copy of the poem 12'0 CLOCK NEWS, please click here.