Author Archives: Jody R. Rosen

Writing competitors beware: the deadline approaches!

Are you a City Tech student, faculty member, or staff member interested in submitting your work for the Literary Arts Festival? If so, please consider submitting your work for the Writing Competition–you can win fame and fortune if yours fares well with the judges. The catch? the deadline is TODAY! Mere hours remain in the competition!

For more information, refer back to this earlier post about the competition, or check out this poster:

LAF Writing Competition Poster 2014

Thinking about and working with Cornelius Eady’s poetry

From Prof. Robert Ostrom in the English Department, here are a series of assignments instructors might use with students to bring Cornelius Eady’s work into the classroom. Students might use these to interact with Eady’s writing outside of class. Some of these assignments involve critical writing, and others involve creative writing. Refer to this earlier post linking out to some of Eady’s writing to have poems to work with. If you have further suggestions, want to offer feedback, or want to share how a particular assignment worked for you, please feel free to reply to this post with a comment.

I. Poetry Explication Assignment

1. Response

Read and respond to one of Cornelius Eady’s poems. How does the poem make you feel?  Does it remind you of a personal experience you’ve had or a story you’ve heard?

2. Answer the following questions.

A.     Voice

  • Who is speaking?
  • How would you characterize the speaker?
  • To whom is he or she speaking?
  • For what purpose is he or she speaking?
  • How would you describe the speaker’s tone?
  • Is the poem a lyric or a narrative or other?

B.     Form and Word Choice

  • How many stanzas is the poem?
  • How many lines are in each stanza?
  • Does the poem contain an obvious meter or rhythm?
  • Is there a rhyme scheme?
  • Are there any internal or end rhymes? Give examples.
  • Can you find any examples of slant rhymes, alliteration, assonance or onomatopoeia?
  • Choose one line and explain why you think Eady chooses to break the line where he does?
  • How does the poet’s word choice and/or word order affect the meaning and tone of the poem?
  • List any literary devices you notice in the poem (simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, allusion).
  • Choose two of these literary devices and briefly explore the implications.

C.     Imagery

  • What images do you notice in the poem?
  • Do you see any descriptive moments in the poem?
  •             Which of the senses does Eady appeal to in this poem?
  •             What is the relationship of the descriptive images to the speaker’s state of mind?
  •             Do the images create a sense of time of day? Season of year? Atmosphere? Mood?

D.    Theme

  • What do you think is the point of the poem?
  • What ideas are being communicated by the speaker?
  • How are the ideas being reinforced by the formal elements of the poem?

3.  Response

Revisit your initial response to this poem. Write a paragraph explaining how your understanding and feelings about the poem have changed.


II. Narration Description Assignment

 Write a short personal narrative using one of Cornelius Eady’s lines as a title or epigraph. Be sure to incorporate narrative elements such as setting, plot, point of view and pacing. In addition, use descriptive (sensory) details to paint a vivid picture for your reader.


III. Compare and Contrast Assignment

 Write an essay comparing and contrasting Cornelius Eady’s “The Gardenia” and Langston Hughes’ “Song for Billie Holiday.” Be sure to include a discussion of form and content. You may also include your own response to these poems.

Song for Billie Holiday

by Langston Hughes

What can purge my heart
Of the song
And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song
Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart
Of the sadness
Of the song?
Do not speak of sorrow
With dust in her hair,
Or bits of dust in eyes
A chance wind blows there.
The sorrow that I speak of
Is dusted with despair.
Voice of muted trumpet,
Cold brass in warm air.
Bitter television blurred
By sound that shimmers–

IV. Negative Image Poetry Activity

  1. Choose one of the attached poems by Cornelius Eady.
  2. Create a Negative Image of that poem, which is to say, write a new poem that negates or otherwise alters the original—word by word, line by line, idea by idea. (This idea is based on experiments devised by the Oulipo:  School of French Experimental Writers.)

How can you “negate” or otherwise alter a poem?

Quite literally, you may take the opposite or antonym of each word you come across, keeping in mind that some words, which seem to have no opposite, have dozens of opposites. For example, the opposite of potato is clearly …pineapple, or kudzu, or sweetheart…

  1. When you have finished negating the poem, go back and revise, rearrange, change words, whatever you need to do to polish it and connect lines and ideas. Your final poem should maintain (more or less) the structure of the original.
  2. Pay close attention to sonic elements of words that may plant a seed for words that follow in subsequent lines and stanzas. Allow slant rhymes, consonance, assonance, alliteration, internal rhymes, etc. to guide you as you bring the poem together.
  3. Create a title that helps direct the reader.


V. Scaffolding Poetry Activity

 After reading Cornelius Eady’s “Crows in a Strong Wind,” go through the poem and cross out all nouns, adjectives and main verbs. You may leave the pronouns and helping verbs. Next, rewrite the poem using your own nouns, adjectives and verbs.

Reading Cornelius Eady

Want to get acquainted with Cornelius Eady’s writing before the Literary Arts Festival on April 10th? Check out some of his poems online!

The Gardenia

From the Poetry Foundation
Charlie Chaplin Impersonates a Poet
A Small Moment
Crows in a Strong Wind
The Empty Dance Shoes

From Poetry Out Loud
I’m a Fool to Love You

These are also great sites to explore to satisfy all of your poetry needs. Don’t be shy–browse around!

And the headliner is…

Big news came from Prof. Caroline Hellman today: Cornelius Eady will be the speaker at this year’s Literary Arts Festival!

More updates coming soon about where to find his work. In the meantime, think about how you can get involved:

Our college’s 33rd Annual Literary Arts Festival is around the corner,Thursday, April 10, at 5:30pm at 240 Jay Street (Midway Auditorium). The Festival is a long standing tradition that celebrates student writing and features a special guest author, along with student performances. This is an event to see and be seen.

WE NEED YOU for LAF to be a success. We need your unique talent, your school spirit, your energy, and your writing!

How Can You Get Involved?

***To volunteer to be a part of the student team and meet new friends (or bring your friends with you–all are welcome) OR express interest in performing: email Festival Director Prof. Caroline .

***To enter the writing contest for a chance to win some money, present your work at the Festival, and potentially be published in City Tech Writer,  see the attached flyer . Questions about the writing contest? Email Prof. Rebecca Devers . 

***To keep up with the latest about the event and learn more, join the Festival OpenLab Project, and keep up with festival news via the Festival OpenLab site and by following @CityTechLitFest on Twitter.

The Literary Arts Festival is Coming!

Save the date for this Spring’s Literary Arts Festival at City Tech: April 10th at 5:30 PM, in the Midway Auditorium.

Can’t wait until then? Get involved sooner! Prof. Caroline Hellman, the Festival’s fearless organizer, is looking for your help. She writes: “I’m building a student volunteer team for the Literary Arts Festival (coming your way Thursday, April 10, 5:30pm, Midway Auditorium), and all students are welcome.  Participation is a rather minimal time commitment; it includes helping to publicize the event, choosing the talent for the evening’s festivities, and being on hand for the Festival to help set up, usher, and lend some welcome school spirit.”

Interested? Please contact her at CHellman AT

Without making promises on Prof. Hellman’s behalf, I will note that previous teams of volunteers have sported dashing T-shirts with that year’s Festival’s logo. Could a festive Festival T-shirt be in your future, too?

Announcing the Spring 2014 Literature Roundtable!

Prof. Renata Ferdinand, Coordinator of the Literature Roundtable, has just announced the reading for next semester. It’s Intimate Apparel, a play by Brooklyn-based author Lynn Nottage. You can purchase the play, or read it as an ebook from our college library.

Want to know a little about the play before you read it? Prof. Ferdinand shared this information about it:

CRITICAL REACTION:  INTIMATE APPAREL is the winner of the 2004 New York Drama Critics Circle Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play.

“This haunting and hilarious play is the most fulfilling event of the season.” New York Post

“The language of Intimate Apparel is a thing of beauty, at times approaching poetry…The play is a story about citizens grabbing for the same crust of bread, occasionally pulling nourishment from one another’s mouths. It is a parable about sweet dreams and honeyed words that, in an instant, can turn sour.” —Los Angeles Times


THE STORY: The time is 1905, the place New York City, where Esther, a black seamstress, lives in a boarding house for women and sews intimate apparel for clients who range from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. Her skills and discretion are much in demand, and she has managed to stuff a goodly sum of money into her quilt over the years. One by one, the other denizens of the boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she’s saved to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as the white women she sews for. By way of a mutual acquaintance, she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome Caribbean man named George who is working on the Panama Canal. Being illiterate, Esther has one of her patrons respond to the letters, and over time the correspondence becomes increasingly intimate until George persuades her that they should marry, sight unseen. Meanwhile, Esther’s heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her, but the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both, and Esther consents to marry George. When George arrives in New York, however, he turns out not to be the man his letters painted him to be, and he absconds with Esther’s savings, frittering it away on whores and liquor. Deeply wounded by the betrayal, but somehow unbroken, Esther returns to the boarding house determined to use her gifted hands and her sewing machine to refashion her dreams and make them anew from the whole cloth of her life’s experiences.

*     *     *

The date for the roundtable hasn’t been announced yet, but Prof. Ferdinand is planning to have the event coincide with Women’s History Month, so expect it to be in March.

Happy reading!

Planning to attend the Literature Roundtable?

Planning to attend? Why not grab lunch and support City Tech students on your way?! Please read this message from Louisa Garcia, Vice President of the Art Directors Club:

ADC Patisserie Nov 14a2

Hello everyone,

The Art Directors Club will need your help this Thursday, November 14 from 12:45pm – 2:15pm. As most of you know, we are a design club at City Tech that releases the magazine publication, Command + J, as well as host the Meet the PROS speaker series, which features professionals from the design, advertising and illustration field. We have been fundraising diligently for a trip to Paris next April for one week during our spring break.

The Student Government Association has decided to host a fundraising competition and the club that raises the most money between 12:45pm – 2:15pm will win a cash prize of $500. We could really use that money towards our trip because bake selling twice weekly amounts to only about half that cash prize.Here’s how you can help:
We ask that you purchase your lunch with us that day on the Ground Floor of the Atrium Building. If you cannot come to us, we can come to you, just email us at:, give us your order and we will deliver it to your office.
We even accept credit cards!
Le Menu
Turkey & Cheese (with lettuce & tomato) on a mini-baguette $5
Ham & Cheese (with lettuce & tomato) on a mini-baguette $5
Mozzarella (with basil & tomato) on a mini-baguette $5
All sandwiches can be served either hot or cold
Cupcakes $1
Brownies $1
Cookies $1
Bottle of Water $1
Can of Coca Cola $1
Can of Sprite $1
Can of Diet Coca Cola $1
Can of Ginger-ale $1
If you have a special request for a sandwich, let us know the day before and we will prepare it specially for you.
Thank you all so very much.
Louisa Garcia
Vice President