December 12th, 2017 by kropfm

Solmaz Sharif Reaction

I loved the visit from Solmaz Sharif. She is such an inspiring and humble person. While some of the questions that were asked were interesting enough, her answers always seems so well thought out and unique. None of her answers could be considered generic and she took the necessary time to pause and think about her response to questions. One of the things she talked about was the use of social media and how people interact with it. I think her patience and willingness to wait before answering reflected well on her answer, which was that it is an opioid– people would quickly think of something witty and in a day it would be forgotten, and that would happen again and again. However, Sharif’s demeanor represented a woman who wouldn’t be forgotten immediately because she thought of really important things to say at the right times.

One other thing I thought was really interesting was her description on the writing process of Look. In my mind, the whole time I read Look, I had imagined that Solmaz Sharif was using the words based on their definition, but she said she put them into a list and chose randomly. That definitely made me look at the book differently. She described it as having the “ghost” of the definition in the poem, which was more haunting to her. She also explained that she wanted to look at the characters of war, but not as the soldier, the refugee, or the government, but looking at the debutant or box of trinkets. She wanted to show the parakeet in the cage that was left in the abandoned house of a refugee family, which is both refreshing and is a testament to her creativity and thoughtfulness. War doesn’t just affect those fighting in it.

December 1st, 2017 by A New Woman

Solmaz Sharif

I knew she was young but it didn’t really register until I saw her in person. But the way she carries herself and the way she speaks reflect someone very very wise. I LOVE the way she speaks. Reading her poetry is one thing, but I was personally more fascinated by her natural speech pattern during the plenary session and the lecture because her influence as a poet still so strongly influences her normal speech. In particular I remember one of the first things she said in the plenary class was something about “putting flowers in rifles,” and later during the q&a in ATS she randomly pulled the imagery of “a parakeet in a cage of an abandoned house in the war zone” off the top of her head. I just am amazed that someone’s grasp of vocabulary and imagery and just language in general can be so easily accessed. All poetry and political activism aside, I think what I admire most about Sharif is the way she talks.

November 28th, 2017 by choc



the natural phenomenon by which all things with mass

mass. what is it
is it the size and energy behind the movement
what driving force would inspire him to
seek me

(mass is both a property of a physical body and 
a measure of its resistance to acceleration)

was it my lack thereof that to him i gravitated,
pulled into his orbit, unable to resist that acceleration

are brought towards one another. 
since energy and mass are equivalent, all forms of energy, 
including light, cause gravitation and are

what seems to have escaped me
(including light)

is it something that you took with you

under the influence of it.

it. gravity

the fundamental force that affects all things
what created stars, galaxies, universes
from gaseous matter.

all of creation, built around gravity (and its rules)

her gravity was overwhelming to the point in which mine didn’t seem to exist

is gravity infectious, like how a needle scratched against magnetic stone will come to attract departed from it

now i still feel it everywhere
pulling me down, not letting me wake up
the immeasurable gravity of the pit of my stomach
pulling everything down towards it
even my thoughts and feelings 

(energy and mass are equivalent)

is that why i can’t focus
did i take some of your gravity

i’ve been trying all this time to shed mass to try and get it to disappear
inbecoming smaller and smaller and smallerandsmaller and

. or do you still exist at the .lowest bottom of my heart

all forms of energy, including light, cause 
gravitation and are under the influence of it.
 (including light)

light is bent through gravity
everything i saw
everything you saw

through gravity.
Gravity has an infinite range, although its effects 
become increasingly weaker on farther objects


that’s how long your force acted on me
i’m sent drifting farther and farther away and farther and


(and did i have an effect on you)
(like how a needle pulled down by the earth is also—)

pulling the earth up a little

[Question for Solmaz Shariff: Are there times when you see what you’ve tried to do with your book and feel that you yourself have forgotten to Look?]

November 27th, 2017 by kropfm

The Weight of the World (Wait)

Time flies, it races.

To what finish line?

What’s the point?

Will it ever stop?


You crawl,

Then walk,

Then run,

Then hobble,

You sit, rocking in the chair your mother used when you were young, when you crawled.

All those years ago.


Time flies,

When you’re having fun, so much fun that you feel light as a feather,

When you’re working, so busy you feel suffocated and tied down.

Time races.




Pressure falls,

Shoulders carry

The weight

of school, of jobs, of family, of responsibilities, of the world,

of life.




People speak,

change happens.

The weight

of authority, of actions, of potential,

of words.




It all goes by so fast.


War, blink, Peace, blink, Change.

What can you do? What time do you have?




Time stops.

Long enough for you to realize

the weight 

that you hold, that holds you back

the weight

of you.



Question for Solmaz Sharif:

(How) has your experience writing Look, changed the way you view media (social or otherwise)? (Social) media culture changes greatly year to year, how do you think this constant change as well as the language used in the media positively or negatively affects its influence?


November 27th, 2017 by WHJF207

A Cat and its Prey

A dictionary of ballet terms from the American Ballet Theatre:


A mouse stops suddenly

from its petit allegro

it senses something

something is watching


It turns out and around

looks en avant

to the side

even derriére.




The mouse is not soothed.

It knows one pas de chat

and all is over.


It’s right.


Out from the bushes

slides the slinky cat

its ballon reaching high

then higher


its sautee to the mouse

proves unsuccessful

the ballet master must try again.


The mouse pirouettes

to the nearest point of cover—

a hole en dedans

a tree


The angry cat left, en dehors from the hole

whines and whines

even pantemimes




The mouse fondus into its

new found safety

while the cat,

no longer virtuoso in its act

sits back on its supporting legs


…and dreams of biscuits

(because mice are nice).


Question for Solmaz Sharif:

Technology forces us to use language in such different ways. Our language is limited by physical space in the form of social media- Twitter has a word limit. Yet, the Internet seems to have endless space for anything to be published. We are also afforded the option to be anonymous. We can hide behind a screen if we choose. Do you notice or have you noticed any changes in the use/consumption of language or language itself with the development of technology?



November 27th, 2017 by Victoria Wotton

Percussion Poem

(Using percussion vocabulary)


The balance all rests on one


Tilt to the front: control

but feeble

To the back: power

but unbounded


Try to distribute evenly

unknowingly favor

Weight pulls down

shaky, unsure, unclear

Feel the drag to the center



Waves travel down

through metal columns

Bouncing back and forth

and off walls



But the node was clipped

sound dipped

quality lost to the surrounding space




Push forward

Watch the straight path

down to the




Question for Solmaz Sharif:

What is it about vision that made you prioritize the optical experience of your works to the auditory experience,? Do the two intertwine at all to you, or do you just focus on visual cues because they fit your concepts better?

November 27th, 2017 by tarwatel


(Poem using dance vocabulary)

I always preferred to be upstage

To move not up, but farther away from the things around me

I try to be modern

That is, highly individualized, without a plan

But instead I lunge toward comfort and isolation

Contracting into nothing

Choreographing my every move.


The point is- I will try to fix my attitude

Developpe myself

Jump and assemble

And eventually gain balance and rhythm.


I will lunge forward, to the audience,

Move downstage,

Hyperextend until my bones hurt,

And stagger until my life is grand.



Question for Solmaz Sharif: How did your fascination with military vocabulary begin? Almost every student in this class wasn’t aware a military vocabulary even existed, and it came as a shock that there was so much government control over the formation of language.  How did you discover it, and what inspired you to study it to in depth? Since the completion of this collection, do you ever revisit the dictionary?


November 27th, 2017 by hrbekm

Poem: Organic Form

Organic Form

[organic form: A concept that likens literary works to living organisms forming themselves by a process of ‘natural’ growth. The doctrine of organic form [. . .] argues that in an artistic work the whole is more than the mere sum of its component parts, and that *form and *content fuse indivisibly in an ‘organic unity’. It rejects as ‘mechanical’ the *neoclassical concept of conformity to rules, along with the related assumption that form or style is an ‘ornament’ to pre-existing content. It tends to be hostile to conceptions of *genre and *convention, as it is to the practice of *paraphrase. Carried to a dogmatic conclusion, its emphasis on unity condemns any literary analysis as a destructive abstraction; this attitude is sometimes referred to as organicism.]

. . .

My mind lingers on the phonetics of your name
as if it’s a verse of poetry,

because there was a memorable metre in your voice:
a soundtrack to lost sensibility.

You fit with me like imperfect rhyme
my organic form and your outline —

so my judgment went on hiatus to paint you
in pleasant characterization,

and you floated like a line of free verse
across my horizon of expectations.

But flashback should be your last figure of me,
or else I’ll die to false fantasy,

because your whispers threatened a romance
that would put us through domestic tragedy.

. . .

Question for Solmaz Sharif: What is the relationship between your work as your originally plan it and the final versions of published works? Do your initial concepts or intentions change through the process of creating and editing? How so?

November 27th, 2017 by A New Woman

Specialized Vocabulary Poem

*From volleyball vocabulary

Gone Fishing

Row softly, on finger tips
Attack. Dig deep,
Gone in for the kill
Tuna, flashing rainbow in rolling water
dive low
creating fish-like flickers
like decoys.
Cast your net,
close your eyes,
and hope.


Question: Who did you talk to to get a sense of the war mentality? Because you grew up in the US for most of your life you wouldn’t have witnessed it firsthand, so from whom did you get the sense of experience that you used to write your poems?

November 26th, 2017 by mudds

Star Wars-Critical Edition

I am going to do my Critical Edition on Star Wars: A New Hope. I want to focus on the combination of influences and cultures that George Lucas drew on in order to create the ‘verse and the Canon. Specifically, the World War II and Cold War references and the cultures that were drawn from to create the Jedi, Sith, and the Force. As an avid Star Wars fan, I will draw from both the movie and canonical sources, both old and new, in order to paint a better picture of the ‘verse as a whole. I will also draw on scholarly articles, as well as, if possible, documents and sources from Lucasfilms and Lucas himself in order to ascertain how not only Star Wars was created, but also how it has continued to influence current pop culture.

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