National Writing Project

The Facts and Nothing but the Facts: Using Objective Writing in the Teaching of Poetry

By: Richard Gillin
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 4
Date: Fall 1990

Summary: Gillin shows how, in requiring them to focus precisely on what is happening in a piece of literature, he is able to guide students to a more grounded analysis of the literature itself.

 

Excerpt

A former student of mine, who is now technical writer, was chiding me about how students are channeled into a "literacy" approach to language. Students write around facts in this "literary" framework, by stressing their emotions, and they embellish their prose with allusions that have imaginative and sensual appeal. Too often, this sort of writing moves away from what is even suggested in a poem. Technical writers, he explained, are admonished not to get "literary;" they are asked to present information objectively, accurately and without analysis or explanation. He challenged me to have my students write with the special kind of precision of a technical writer.

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