Freewrite: Reading “Entre Ville” by J. R. Carpenter

I’ve read several pieces by J. R. Carpenter whose work I really admire. I share with her an interest in uses of space and place and how we become attached to them. Entre Ville is one of my favorite pieces of hers.I think the design is interesting and it invites me to poke around on windows and doors and see what I can see. And much to my surprise also hear what I can hear. As we talked about in class today, texts like this put play back into reading. And too some extent it is also a collaborative experience. “Did you click the clothesline?” “Listen to the old man play his trumpet.” We want to share the parts of it that delight us.

While my students are going to be writing an analysis of the poem, I’m mostly trying to think abut the process of reading such texts (they’ll be doing that, too, and I’ll also be analyzing the poem, but I’ll probably put the emphasis in my essay on reading). How do we talk about reading such a text? Presumably we all start with the main poem, “Saint Urbain Street Heat,” in part because we easily recognize it: oh there’s the poem! The fact that it moves up and down guided by the red arrows is familiar as well to people who are accustomed to using a scroll bar. But then where do we go? I started with some of the windows and doors because they invite me to peek into them, like old-fashioned children’s books or an advent calendar–when you pull the tabs there is an image or a piece of chocolate behind them. And also it’s logical to open windows and doors.

It took me a while to get to the clothesline, and I clicked on the dog more than once before I found the story there. One of my favorite sections appears with the gloves. I like the way the poem there echoes via the repeated, shaded text and also the images that accompany the words.

Some questions I want to think about more have to do with reading in a nonlinear way. Does it matter that I didn’t see the dog story until the fourth or fifth reading? What would I be missing if I never located it? To some extent these are questions we ask with print texts as well. We may “miss” sections when we read because we don’t understand them or because we are distracted when we’re reading. But they are easier to recover, I suppose, because they are made up of words on a page. We don’t have to hunt for them, at least not by clicking to see what is behind a curtain, or what the bright flowers might deliver.

I am also really taken with the way the line changes directly underneath the title depending on what I click on.

I look forward to hearing what my students have to say.

About Jane Hammons

I write. I teach. I teach writing.
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One Response to Freewrite: Reading “Entre Ville” by J. R. Carpenter

  1. Pingback: Reading “Entre Ville” together « Landscapes of the Imagination

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