Welcome!

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Welcome to the Structure & Surprise blog.

This blog offers materials supplementary to the book Structure & Surprise: Engaging Poetic Turns, including additional poems, discussion of poems, and ideas for creative pedagogy.  It also offers new material: new structures, a growing anthology of poems employing particularly thrilling turns, and theory and criticism of the poetic turn.

Explore, and enjoy!

24 responses

19 02 2009
Jack Ridl

This is going to be really useful, valuable to anyone interested in poems, Mike, and for anyone who teaches. No surprise there, all you’ve done! Great site/blog!

Jack

19 02 2009
Mike Theune

Many thanks, Jack–I learned from the best!
Mike

20 02 2009
Jackie Bartley

Thanks for the site, Mike. I’ll pass it along to other poets and teachers. Here’s to poetry!–Jackie Bartley

20 02 2009
Mike Theune

Thanks for stopping by, Jackie– I hope you’ll return! All best, Mike

22 02 2009
Valerie Higgins

I saw the link to this on the IWU main page… it looks like it will be really interesting! I’m adding it to my Bloglines feeds.

23 02 2009
Mike Theune

Thanks for stopping by, Valerie! I hope you will explore the blog a bit, and let me know if you have any ideas– Sending all best wishes from Bloomington, IL, to Bloomington, IN– Mike

23 02 2009
Reka Jellema

Cool, Mike.

This blog, like the book that birthed it, will be an important resource to any who value imagination and continually seek new ways to experience language, imagery, and all stimuli. Those who look for the odd angle, for ways to see things from unusual perspectives, will appreciate this site. The themes of structure and surprise apply to poetry, but it’s fun to apply the concept of “turns” to other disciplines, including art, physics and astronomy, in my opinion.

I will post a link to it on my Live Journal page, and look forward to visiting often.

Reka Jellema

23 02 2009
Mike Theune

Thanks for your kind words, Reka–they mean a lot coming from someone who is so skilled with words. And thanks for linking up to the blog–very kind!

One of the things I, too, love about turns is that they, in fact, are so much a part of the structures of (and creation or revelation of surprises in) other disciplines. I’m trying with this blog to, at times, open up the notion of the poetic turn. (For example, note that under the “Retrospective-Prospective Structure” I’ve put a link to Obama’s speech accepting the nomination to be the Democratic candidate for President. Obama includes a GREAT retrospective-prospective turn in that speech. So: that turn does not only occur in poetry but also in political oratory. And I’d argue that it happens in almost any act of confession in which one offers an account of past events to make promises about future behavior.) If you have other or additional ideas, please do let me know!

Cheers!
Mike

25 02 2009
windfriction

Hello there! You might not know who I am at first glance from my WordPress handle, but think… this username is actually something you might recall from a poem I wrote for you… :)

Anyway, I am not sure how I came ’round to the site — Ashley, maybe? — but this is so, so great. I am quite fond of the blogosphere, so I’m glad to see you have a space here, and that you’ve carved one for poetry here too. I look forward to reading more!

I have a WordPress blog as well, though nothing to do with poetry… yet.

M.M.M.

25 02 2009
Mike Theune

Molly! So good to get word from you! Thanks for your kind words about the blog, and for further encouraging my engagement with the blogosphere– I hope you’ll stop by this blog often, if it’s useful to you. And I hope you’ll let me know if you have ideas for the blog, or poems I might include (by you or others). I look forward to visiting your blog–

Cheers!
Mike

25 02 2009
Pablo Peschiera

Wow, Mike–the blog is shaping-up nicely! The members of my advanced class very much enjoyed your visit to campus–your site and blog already (even this early) supports what we’re doing with Structure and Surprise. We’ve got poems you might include coming your way soon.

Cheers!

Pablo

25 02 2009
Mike Theune

Thanks so much, Pablo! I’m hoping to post a response to the first of the series of questions you all sent me very soon. However, in large part, my latest post (on the two-lined, ironic poem) is my first response. I’ll clarify this in a post soon. DO send me work when you’ve got it! Give my greetings to your great group!
Mike

27 05 2009
Avi Akshoti

hi there!

i found this site by coincidence, but then i decided i must get the book.
now i woold like to hear your opinion about a type of poems i think you did not mention up to now – poems where the reader finds out during his reading process that the speaker of the poem is someone different from the one he figured in the beginning.
what is your attitude towards this “surprise” , and can you think of examples of such phenomenon?

29 05 2009
Mike Theune

Hi, Avi,

What a great idea for a structure–one in which the reader finds out that the speaker is someone other than the speaker who (the reader thought) began the poem…. I’d not thought of this, but I love the idea.

In part, many poems are largely “about” the revelation of a transformation in the poem’s speaker. That is, very often the speaker is not the same person at poem’s end as s/he was at poem’s beginning–the speaker’s emotions, attitude, and/or perspective has/have changed. (For some examples of this, check out the Descriptive-Meditative Structure (and especially Coleridge’s “This Lime-Tree Bower, My Prison”) and the Dejection-Elation Structure.)

However, I have a feeling, Avi, that you’re thinking of a very different kind of poem, one in which the speaker turns out to be, literally, someone else, like the way in which (spoiler alert: if you’ve not yet seen The Others, you may want to skip my example) the Nicole Kidman character in The Others turns out not to be a flesh-and-blood mother fending off ghosts but rather turns out to be a ghost…. Great idea for poetry… Has it been used…? Hmm.

I’ll have to look it up, but I do think there’s a Margaret Atwood poem with a speaker who turns out, in the end, to have drowned. But, other than this, nothing is popping immediately to mind. Do you have ideas?

I like your idea so much, Avi, that I think I’ll write in the next few days a blog post on it, and ask readers to submit names of poems which employ the kind of structure you mention. Keep a look-out for it. We’ll see what turns up.

With thanks,
Mike

29 05 2009
Avi Akshoti

Hi Mike!

thanks for your reply.

i was happy to hear you liked my idea so much ,and yes you are correct in assuming that my interest is in poems in which the speaker turns out to be, literally, someone else, and not in a change of emotions, attitude, and/or perspective .

the Margaret Atwood poem you mentioned with a speaker who turns out, in the end, to have drowned is called – This is a Photograph of Me – but it does not fulfill my expectations.

so, i will be expecting future responses in your blog concerning this phenomenon

with thanks

Avi

30 05 2009
3 08 2009
Close Calls With Nonsense / reviewgled

[...] blog, which supplements and comments on the poetry-and-poetics material in Michael Theune’s edited volume, which I think I’ll have to [...]

20 10 2009
Younglee

Hi Mike, i like the article “Dialectical Argument Structure” it is very helpful in my dialectic study. Thks

27 05 2010
Mike Theune

My pleasure!

28 03 2010
Natalie

Hi Mike!

Just wanted to pop in and say thanks for coming to Culver-Stockton last Wednesday. I really enjoyed your workshop. Poetry is one of my all time passions and I have to admit i have never tried to write 2-line poems. They are very unexpected and incredibly creative. Thanks again for the visit!

Natalie

Remember:

The rainfall aims
as simple as it seems.

27 05 2010
Mike Theune

Thanks for stopping by, Natalie! It was great to get to meet and work with you at Culver-Stockton those weeks ago… (About which: apologies for my delayed reponse…it was a VERY busy end of semester for me…!)

Wow, and thanks for sending your collaborative, two-line poem…it’s really stunning! Glad to have it around.

All best wishes to you as your begin (I assume) to wrap up your semester–
Mike

20 08 2011
Metcalf Williams

One must not ignore the “twist” form when considering the “turn.” Though epistemologically differentiated the twist implications in early Wallace Stevens are as manifest to the discerning reader as the more evident “turn.”

Take, for instance, the early Stevens work “The Follower” in which one form comes after another (though only in formatted order). Here Stevens writes “as movement stills the heart Sure, turn, but also twist.

The turn plane is clear and the clear twist is plainly evident as well.
Metcalf

20 08 2011
Mike Theune

Dear Metcalf,

I’m intrigued by this idea: differentiating the turn and the “twist.” Would you be willing to clarify what you think is the difference? Also, I checked my Stevens Collected (Faber edition), and I couldn’t find “The Follower.” If you would, let me know where you’re reading this poem so I can take a look at it, and think about the twist.

Thanks for your input!
Mike

4 11 2011
Friday Prompt: STRUCTURE & SURPRISE | Lantern Review Blog

[...] you’re welcome to browse the list of structures on the book’s extraordinarily helpful website to find one that might work better for whichever writing/revision process you’re currently [...]

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