Voices In Writing & The Importance of Civic Writing.

Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries. – Its no surprise to me that the article begins by talking about the resurgence of voice in writing in the 1960’s. This was a time of great change and waves of rebellion. Proponents of a voice in writing said some inspiring things that I 100% agree with: Writing with a strong voice is good writing. Sincere writing is good writing. And my personal favorite: Everyone has a real voice and can write with power. But of course with all the supporters there has to be the defectors. (Can you hear my voice in that last sentence?) Just checking! 😉 Some of their thoughts on voice: Voice is a misleading metaphor. We don’t write with a “voice” that is ours. We do not write, we are written by our culture. Sincerity is not a useful goal for writing. OUCH! I must say I completely disagree with these sentiments about voice in writing. I believe what makes each writer, regardless of the level of writing they are in special and unique IS VOICE! How can anyone deny the significance of voice in writing? I just can’t comprehend it and will never understand it. I like how Elbow stays neutral on the topic. He says we all have a choice about how to think about written language through the lens of text or that of voice. He goes on to say how there is no problem with either. It only becomes a problem when people try to block one idea or the other and label it as wrong. Why can’t we embrace both perspectives? Elbow believes if we start to practice doing this and taking a neutral stance, then it releases us from these dead-end, nonsense arguments and debates that lead us nowhere productive. Instead we can try to understand both sides of the argument and find some common ground. So that we can continue to foster amazing and bright emerging writers rather then focus on the negatives and potentially stifle their development and talents. All voices deserved to be heard!

The conflict about voice in writing can be traced back to ancient Greek times. Aristotle and Plato had some insights on the matter. Plato believed that the power of language comes from the person speaking the words. He also took this a bit deeper by saying he believes the writer must work on bettering themselves as a person. Aristotle on the other hand disagrees. But he also takes a pragmatic approach to it where he kind of sees both sides of the issue. He says that it helps to be a good, trustworthy person but if your a skilled writer, you can fake it. The article also talks about the impact voice has in politics (don’t get me started on Trump’s voice it won’t be pretty…ugh!) And of course lets not forget the internet and influx of electronic communication. Now that we have become accustomed to the use of electronics and social media, we have developed new ways of communicating with each other and of using our voices to convey our thoughts, feelings and opinions to the world. This definitely has showed the importance of using our voice and what that means in how we write and communicate. Each and every one of our blogs for this class are unique and distinctive, that’s what makes reading them each week so exciting! We are all reading the same exact articles but reacting and writing to our own personal thoughts on the content. Each and every one of us has our own special take on what we are reading. Listening to and reading each others voices in these blog posts gives us all new insights and invaluable information that we would never have gained from just our own reading of these articles. If none of us possessed our own voices in our writings, then how boring and blah would these assignments be? How would we ever get through these readings (some have been a tough read, no!?) Also we wouldn’t have these amazingly lively conversations each class period that I look forward to every Monday evening. I also strongly believe that each and every voice that I read and hear in my fellow classmates writings and then in their language when we engage in discussions, is what makes me feel so connected to them. Its what has bonded some of us together as more then just classmates. I feel like because of their special voices, I got to know some of my classmates on a deeper level and consider them to be my friends. I look forward to reading and hearing more of their unique voices in their future works, and learning more about each of them on a deeper level. Xo

On Students Rights to Their Own Texts: A Model of Teacher Response. – I enjoyed this article. I felt like both authors Brannon and Knoblauch did a good job of showing respect for and a deeper understanding of what student writers go through. Which I believe is absent from a lot of articles that deal with writing topics and issues. In the opening they discuss how the student vs teacher role plays a big part in how students write, and revise and most importantly how they emotionally feel about their work and what that means to them personally. What effects does teachers comments have on a student writer? Once again this shows how all of the articles we have read so far as a class are all inter connected. Each week we read different articles but they all have relevance to each other. Which I like and makes me feel like I have a stronger grasp on the material each week! Reading further in the article we discover that a writers authority is important. Especially for the reader to take them seriously. But things get tricky when teacher or teacher-readers as they are referred to in the article, assume that a student hasn’t earned the right or authority to judge their own quality of work. Teacher-readers now see themselves as the ultimate authority figure and experts on what and how students write. They feel like they have all the power to comment as they please and to make judgements on the students writing. But what happens to a student when they receive their papers back graded and filled with comments? Again the dreaded red inky pen of doom makes an appearance and the page is full of comments and cross outs, what does this mean? The students end up feeling dejected, and stifled as writers. For those students who are not strong in their writing skills and may already be dealing with low self confidence due to it, this means they can get sidetracked and feel less incentive to write.

That takes the joy out of writing, which is the real tragedy. I think this idea of incentive and what that means for a student is really insightful. Another important point that was made was about how the student feels their writing becomes less relevant due to the critique of their teacher. Students feel devalued. I think what gets lost in the shuffle of teaching at times, is that teachers are quick to make comments and revisions about what the student did wrong without giving the student a break and really trying to see the value in whatever it is the student was trying to say. Instead of focusing on what the student ought to say, lets try to work together to make what’s already on the paper even better! I love this idea! I think peer review is important, and one on one conferences with students is key! That personal interaction is invaluable and students will immediately feel more comfortable and connected to their teacher. Body language, tone of voice and facial expressions all go a long way! That’s such a great alternative to just quickly and coldly writing comments that the students may perceive as negative. I know first hand the stresses and struggles of teaching, but its certainly not impossible to take a few minutes out of a hectic schedule to meet personally with a student, FIND THE TIME! NO EXCUSES! This act will improve incentive and give students more confidence to try their best to improve in their writing and make meaningful changes. Then lastly this idea of negotiating is also CRUCIAL! By negotiating those changes rather then directing and pulling the authority teacher-reader card, teachers return the control of writing back to the students and empower them to make better writing choices. The students also begin to feel more comfortable with the teacher and sees them as being on the same team! It creates a level playing field! They now speak the same language! Which will ultimately ease anxiety and fear and help to produce the best and brightest future writers. Xo

My thoughts on Civic Writing.- This is amazing! I mean having students write about important issues that society is facing, or that they have a personal connection to is really something that should be nurtured and cultivated. Writing has always been a powerful tool in spreading awareness and bringing to light important issues we face in our own communities and as a nation. Especially now in these trying times its even more important to foster students interests in civic writing. Writing with a purpose is always the goal and being able to do this while putting the spotlight on important issues is tremendous. This promotes advocacy, community service and provides a tool for making arguments about issues that matter to youth and their communities. This also allows room for EMPATHY to grow! There is both a personal and civic dimension involved and while they write to fight for change, their also writing their way through their own pain. Another important dimension to this is doing extensive research into the problem, and finding potential solutions. Also important to gain a clear understanding of the institutions involved and how individuals have the power to impact and facilitate real change. This can be empowering for our youth! Not only do they have to write about the complicated issues we face, but they must thoroughly do research which adds another important dimension to their writing and research skills. Learning about Civic Writing makes me want to research and learn even more myself! I want to write about the changes I want to see being made, I wish I would have been exposed to this years ago but I guess its never to late to get involved and make a change! Some topics I would consider is mental health issues, the cost of mental health care and writing to promote equal pay for women in the work place! So many more topics to conquer but that’s a good start! Hope you enjoy this short video on voice in writing I thought it was really neat! Xo

What Are You Hungry For?

In the English language, a single word can have multiple meanings. It is not until you study the word to find the true meaning. Writers have that effect on their readers; they want us to become one with them and to think exactly what they are thinking about at that moment in time. Writers also want readers to immerse themselves in the world they have created, they want them to become one with the characters. 

Justin Torres does just this. He uses imagery to enhance his writing. By using the word hunger over again throughout the story. But every time the reader comes across the word hunger, it has a new meaning. In We The Animals, hunger refers to malnutrition and poverty, hunger is also evident in the toxic relationship between Ma and Paps. Lastly, the theme of hunger arises within the complex protagonist of the story. What exactly is he hungry for? Throughout his wild journey we soon find out.

    As a literary device, imagery consists of descriptive language that can function as a way for the reader to better imagine the world in a piece of literature and also add symbolism to the work (Literary Devices). This is what Torres intended when using imagery in his novel. When someone thinks about hunger, the first thought that comes to mind is malnutrition. In We the Animals, the three brothers are hungry from the first two lines of the haunting story, “we wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry” (Torres, 1). They continued with this heartbreaking picture of all three of them being skinny and undernourished and having to huddle up with each other for warmth. 

By having the word, hunger used in multiple ways demonstrates the tone of the novel. Being hungry is something that some people can relate too, however, having young children talking about how hungry they are touches to the readers and they can sympathize with the characters. Halfway through the story, Torres brings up another situation when the boys are hungry:

 “We tiptoped. We ate peanut butter on saltine crackers and angel hair pasta coated in vegetable oil and grated cheese. We ate things from the back of the refrigerator, long-forgot-ten things. Harry and David orange marmalades, with the rinds floating inside like insects trapped in amber. We ate instant stuffing and white rice with soy sauce or ketchup” (Torres, 30).

He portrays this picture of the three boys in their kitchen when their own mother is sound asleep and depressed in her room after Paps walked out yet again. 

    Hunger does not just mean malnutrition, but can mean the lust and love Paps has towards Ma. In relationships with younger couples, it is clear that there is passion and romance between them. However, Paps only sees Ma as his property and demands that his sexual desires be met or there will be consequences. For example, “we watched him watching her, we studied his hunger, and he knew we were seeing and understanding. Now he winked at us; he wanted su to know that she made him happy. ‘That’s my girl,’ he said, slapping her bottom” (Torres, 46). There is no doubt that Ma makes Paps very happy, but in a toxic and twisted way. He sees Ma as ‘a piece of meat’ that only he can use and abuse whenever it is convenient for him which proves his desire of feasting. 

    On the other hand, Ma is a character that does not see how she is being mistreated and abused as a bad thing. Possibly due to an abusive childhood, or due to the fact that she has been with Paps since the tender age of 14 and believes this treatment is “normal.” Sadly she doesn’t know any better. Or does she?

“Ma tried to keep talking, tried to keep all of it–the silence and hunger and the idea of Paps–at bay, but she was running out of words. ‘Honestly,’ she finally asked, ‘what should we do?’ She waited. ‘We can go home, but we don’t have to. We don’t ever have to go home again. We can leave him. We can do that. But I need you to tell me what to do” (Torres, 71-72).

Ma seems to have had enough of being abused, used and mistreated by Paps. She decides to take the boys away after a long shift at the brewery to escape it all. They end up at a park, where Ma ends up falling asleep in the bed of the truck which results in the boys exploring the park.

Afterwards, Ma confines in her sons about how she has always wanted to go to Spain and now she sees this might be the perfect opportunity to chase that dream. However, one of the boys sadly informs her that you cannot drive to Spain. But you can tell she is hungry, hungry for the taste of freedom; the wanting of starting over with a new life, a clean slate.

    Love is something that almost everyone in the entire world wants to have; that warm feeling that fills our own hearts when someone so close to us shows just the smallest amount of affection. The three brothers shows the reader within the first few pages that there is a lack of love flowing through their household;

 “We were brothers, we were Musketeers. ‘Three for all! And free for all!’ we shouted and stabbed each other with forks. We were monsters–Frankenstein, the bride of Frankenstein, the baby of Frankenstein […] we were the Three Bears, taking revenge on Goldilocks for our missing porridge. The magic of God is three. Manny was the Father, Joel the Son and I the Holy Spirit” (Torres, 24-25).

The three brothers call out for help from the very beginning, they were hungry for that feeling of being loved by another person and they craved the stability in their family unit. Instead of having two parents who are supposed to love them unconditionally, they have to rely on each other for that feeling of being wanted and loved. 

    These brothers have all this anger and fraustion built up within them for some quiet time, that during a friendly, family game of hide-n-seek they released what their feelings were on their parents. The boys were hiding in the bathtub when Paps was supposed to look for them, but instead got distracted by Ma and they started to have an adult moment. Afterwards, the boys explained to their father that he was supposed to look for them, but replied with how he found something better (Torres, 48-49).

 However, the brothers did not take that response from Paps lightly; our narrator explained just how it was not enough: 

“ Our towels had slipped off, and blood pumped through our naked bodies, our hands shook with energy, we were alive and it was not enough; we wanted more. We started tickling Ma too, started poking her, and she collapsed onto Pap’s chest and covered her head, and wrapped his arms around her. Then Manny slapped Ma hard on her back. It sounded so satisfying, the thwack of his palm on her skin. ‘You were supposed to come find us,’ he said (Torres, 50).

Manny, Joel, and the youngest brother expressed how they felt about feeling abandoned and how all they want is to be loved by them; for someone to take care of them, and to let them know that everything is going to be okay. 

    As our narrator, the youngest brother gets older and starts to find himself and his place in this world. When he grows older, he finds himself and comes out in his private journal where he expresses his darkest sexual fantasies that he has. One night, he finds himself at a bus station seeking someone to love since no one ever seemed to fill that hole. He ends up with the bus driver who ends up showing him the dark love that the youngest brother always hungered for;

“I trudged back in the predawn. The winter sky was clouded over, all pink gloom. I wanted to look at myself as he had; I wanted to see my black curls peeking out from  under my ski cap [..] The cold gathered in the tips of those fingers, so everywhere he touched me was a dull stab of surprise. I wanted to stand before a mirror and look and look at myself, I opened my mouth and stretched my voice over the buzz of passing cars. ‘He made me!’ I screamed. ‘I’m made!” (Torres, 115).

During that special moment for the youngest brother, he felt the love he always wanted and hungered for. The void is not completely filled, but it is a start. 

    Justin Torres plays with the readers emotions throughout this novel when it comes to imagery, especially when he refers to hunger in different ways. After reading We the Animals, readers will have a different approach on the feeling of imagery and how it can impact the readers views on certain words used in the novel and how the writer wants you to view them.

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

“Imagery Examples and Definition.” Literary Devices, 31 Oct. 2015, 

http://www.literarydevices.com/imagery/.

Torres, Justin. We the Animals. New York: Mariner. 2011. Print.

 

Reconsiderations: Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries – Peter Elbow

“Voice is an important dimension of texts and we should pay lots of attention to it. Everyone has a real voice and can write with power. Writing with a strong voice is good writing. Sincere writing is good writing. My voice is my true self and my rhetorical power. The goal of writing is develop the self. -Peter Elbow

In the honor in taking this reading “Voice in Writing Again: Embracing Contraries” is really an interesting topic everyone has their own voice whether it’s talking or writing. Everyone is very different and has their own way. Elbow, around the 1960s there was a powerful movement of enthusiasm forgetting voice into writing.

Speaking of Greeks Sophists offered in effect to help craft anyone for any speech to help win any argument or lowercase- no matter what kind of self. “Plato, in reaction, argued that the power of language derived, to some real extent from the nature of rhetor’s self: only a good rhetor can create really good worshippers. To learn to speak or write better, we need also to work on being persons.” As well as another Greek stating in the passage “Aristotle refused this either/or conflict. He wrote that “We believe good men more fully and more readily than others” (Rhetoric 1356a), but then he went on to acknowledge that speakers can fool listeners and persuade them with a consciously constructed voice. He talks about the ability to “make ourselves thought to be sensible and morally good. [. . .]” (1378a, my emphasis)—noting that this is a matter of skill, not character”.

“We can now see that writers disguise his art and give the impression of speaking naturally and not artificially. Naturalness is persuasive, artificiality is the centrary; for our hearer are prejudiced and think we have some design against them.” I hear Artisotle giving kind of pragmatic, common sense affirmation of both positions. It helps to be trustworthy but; if you’re skilled you can fake it.”

The Current Situation

Everyone or even some people have a journal or just a daily notebook they write in where they can just be themselves in their own writing(s) and no one can judge them. In the “Current Situation” speaks on students having voice inside of a classroom when it comes to writing papers Jane Danielewiczs a teacher quotes of her students “I turned down your suggestions for revising just because I thought it took away some of my personal voice in some places.” As a teacher this takes up a personal space for them in my opinion not wanting their student to feel as though they’re being attacked in away of their teachers words. We all can agree this has happened before receiving feedback from your teacher when you were in elementary or high school.

Voice is well alive in politics which is a big factor in today’s society. For example this part of the reading talks about a special politic that was once our President of the United States George W. Bush stating “George W. Bush was probably elected because his voice was more persuasive and believable to more voters.”

Not going deeply into his presidential past. May I ask a question to the reader that’s reading this? Can you say that you personally have been persuaded by politics from either or parties? There’s a few politics that have their own voice in who they truly are, what they stand for and stand firm on everything they’re promising to the people which makes them very powerful (self-in-voice).

At a young age I can admit when it comes to the internet I was engaged. Voice takes a big part of the internet On pg.5 quotes “Voice is alive on the Internet and via email. It used to be that must writing occurred in school or at work (although we shouldn’t underestimate how many people wrote mostly privately in other settings; see D. Barton and R. Ivanic)” Far as writers, real writers this is as taken on a big deal for as strangers being on the internet when it comes to writing on the internet.” Such as strangers they’re on the internet everyday talking to whomever they contact and have a way of persuading.

I know some of you can admit to having personal blogs, myspace, Facebook accounts reveling your true comfortable self, wether it’s based on your opinion or chatting with a family member, or close friends in a group chat. pg.5 also quotes “On blogs and websites such as Myspace, lots of people eagerly use written words to reveal “who they really are,” while just as many use the same website to “construct a self.”

“Among the latter group, some want to disguise what they feel are their “real selves”, some want to give voices to what they experience as multiple selves, and some don’t feel they have actual selves at all until they created them with language”. Personally speaking, having a personal journal no one can pinpoint out anything wrong such as my slang in my writings , or how I’m writing in my dialect. Critics get exhausted of criticizing something that no one defends, tired of not reaching people who don’t listen to them. “This, critical commentary in our field goes on to other topics, such as: digital media, public writing, service learning.”

Either/ Or Battle

Question: “How do people respond to contradictory view? The most common response is to try to win- engage in an either/ or zero-sum attempt to discredit the overview.” Jospeh Harris argues about voice in his opinion on “A Teaching Subject” Harris compare/contrast essays from approaching and approving between the one he criticizes. Harris writes: “These contrasting views of what ought to go on in a writing classroom stem from deep and conflicting intuitions about how language and self and related.”

The compare/contrast essay discusses the similarities and differences between two things, people, concepts, places, etc. A comparison essay usually discusses the similarities between two things. the contrast essay discusses the differences. Examples: A compare/contrast essay may discuss … the likenesses and differences between two places, like New York City and Los Angeles; the similarities and differences between two religions, like Christianity and Islam; two people, like my brother and myself.

Explaining, a student using their own form of language to the understand of their own knowledge but yet, not anyone elses. (42) “This unfolds in this chapter his either/ or analysis of two approaches to voice becomes a larger analysis of two approaches to the teaching of writing.” Studying Harris’s metaphorical world writing in real voice from expressing yourself. Using powerful words and connecting to your audience as their reading you work. On the other side as “school” composition this type of reading has been mislead into understand “There are no outward linguistic characteristics to point to in writing with real voice.” Why? because there is a form of writing that is handed to the students in the classroom that most students can’t formally adjust this is also called “Structured Writing”.

Compromise

“Compromise is surely a healthier way to deal with conflict or contradiction. If were going to avoid war, you can’t have mine. They are mutually incompatible we both have to give in a bit – back down some- and work out a middle position of some sort.” Introducing Newkirk’s book “The Performance of Self in Student Writing” he concludes the 4 C’s “College Composition and Composition in College English” (CCCC). He wants to point out the limitations of compromise way of handling contradiction in writing.

Aristotle uses in various places in his work. He often deals with tricky issues by saying, “in one sense, X; but, in another sense, Y.” He wants others to understand his method. “Analyzed through one frame of reference, good ethos requires good char- acter; but, analyzed through another frame of reference, good ethos is available to skill alone.”

Here a click of Peter Elbow speaking on the “Western Massachusetts Writing Project Speaking on Voice. https://youtu.be/JezvZjc8oUQ