The Hardest 5000 Words Assignment I’ve Given Yet…

I know this because it’s 5:25 PM and only half of my students have posted their work. I’ve received several emails about how difficult this assignment is, as well as some flat-out I’m-not-doing-this communications. I get it. Some prompts are harder than others. But the ones who did the assignment– who did what I asked– created some of the most intense and beautiful writing I’ve seen in a long time. Even the students who didn’t get it quite right, created some incredible vignettes. I’m sold. And my mantra of Hard-is-Good has been redeemed again.

What is this nefarious writing assignment that is plaguing my students? Book-blended poetry.

Here’s how it works: You take (at least) seven gorgeous sentences or phrases from a piece of literature. Strong phrases. We’re studying The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, so that is our clay. Then you come up with at least seven original thoughts about the book. These phrases or sentences get blended together (enter: exquisitely painful writing labor) to make a blank verse poem. And… voila! You have confused, frustrated, angst-filled students who eventually birth something incredible that defies even the teacher’s imagination.

My attempt at book-blended poetry:

Cain’s Heresy

I let my brother go

let him ride loose his passions

on a haggard shaft

in his own way.

I’m broken by his provocation


barely distinguishable.

I let my brother go

do that I do not want to do

the evil cords of life

his own conflagration

draw me back to his strange, thin light.

I let my brother go

to his lurid brown heaves

trenches in our memory

so pitiful

a provocation: vice.

I let my brother go

to the devil

in his own way.

And the life was quite gone.


5 thoughts on “The Hardest 5000 Words Assignment I’ve Given Yet…”

    1. Absolutely you get candy… but wherever IS this typo? I checked and double checked before posting. And I checked again just now. Now I’m curious. Wait. Do you mean 5000 WordSSSSS? Argh! Remind me in class. :0

    1. So you’re talking about the comma I chose to not put between those two independent clauses that were closely related… Yes, yes, well– I didn’t like the way it looked. Check out this link: http://writingcommons.org/process/edit/use-correct-punctuation/commas/357-use-commas-to-join-two-or-more-independent-clauses. You must know the rules like a pro to break them like an artist. I was going for artist. You still get candy for that eagle eye of yours.

      On Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM, kellygriffiths wrote:


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