As we begin Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko this week, you'll notice that Silko uses a great deal of poetry interspersed with the prose narrative of the novel. The poetry is a stark contrast to the prose, inasmuch as the poetry's subject matter--Pueblo cosmological beliefs--contrasts with the otherwise realistic portrayal of the present in the narrative portions of the novel. (Of course, the novel's publication date and other historical cues in the narrative's exposition alert us to exactly when "the present" is in Ceremony.)
M. Scott Mamaday has called Ceremony "a telling" rather than a novel to be read. Indeed, the narrative has a lyrical cadence reminiscent of oral literature performances by community storytellers. Silko echoes this idea, stating in her introductory essay that she didn't know she was writing a novel and that, when finished, wasn't sure what genre of writing she had created. Dividing the narrative into chapters seemed inorganic to her. What she had written, she realized, was simply a very long story appropriate for her Pueblo literary tradition and her artistic goals.
Given that some literature, as in Pueblo tradition, is meant to be spoken rather than read--and given that many of you expressed the hope of pairing spoken word with dance during our last class session--we're going to replicate the experiences of composing, performing, and hearing our own literature inspired by the intersection of your Town Hall topic, course themes, and Ceremony. This week's assignment is for each of you to write a spoken-word piece (or poem) that would take about 2-3 minutes to read aloud. You'll perform these in class (just to our class) on Thursday, 3/15. One piece will be selected for demonstration at a General Education conference in early April.