10-second review: Using poetry and prose models, students learn to transcend the imitation to develop their own ideas.
Title: Using Imitations in Literature Classes.” A Loux. College Composition and Communication (December 1987), 466-472. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).
Summary: Students gain an understanding of the skill used by poets and fiction writers by imitating models of their poetry and prose, usually in short selections. In most cases students might begin as simple imitators, but they soon shape their own ideas beyond the imitated form.
Comment: Try it yourself before trying it with your students. I have tried imitating literary models myself and have been impressed by how I went beyond the form into my own ideas. The model is not just a format; it’s a starting place for original composition. You might try your students at imitating cinquains and haiku and conclude with Petrarchan and Shakespearean sonnets. The students will gain insight into just how difficult literary composition is. And they will produce some very interesting writing. RayS.
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