Close Reading of Barry Lopez’s“Gone Back Into the Earth”(Reading as an Aesthetic Act)Mary Ann ReillyBlueprints for Learning04.29.13
Word/Phrase Can define it Heard of it Don’t know it Definitionbox canyon A canyon with steep wallson 3 sides allowing accessonly though the mouth ofthe canyon.terminal wall End boundary wallcleft Split or crackprecipitous Very steeplanguid Lacking vigor, weaktrill of a phoebe A fluttering or tremuloussoundimmobile FixedIn the extremeremoveremotenesswade Walk in
Read.“I am up to my waist in a basin of cool, acid-clear water, at thehead of a box canyon some 600 feet above the Colorado River.I place my outstretched hands flat against a terminal wall ofdark limestone which rises more than a hundred feet aboveme, and down which a sheet of water falls—the thin creekwhose pooled waters I now stand. The water splits at myfingertips into wild threads; higher up a warm canyon windlifts water off the limestone in a fine spray; these dropletsintercept and shatter sunlight. Down, down another fourwaterfalls and fern shrouded pools below, the water splits intoan eddy of the Colorado River, in the shadow of a hugeboulder. Our boat is tied there.”From Lopez, Barry. (1989). “Gone Back into the Earth.” (pp. 41-53). Crossing Open Ground. New York: Vintage Books.
Embody the Text (Groups of 5) Through…1. Narrative pantomime: Create movements/dance thatillustrate the text and as one or more in your group reads keysections of the text aloud, the rest will move with purpose.2. Choral Reading: Reset the paragraph to be performed chorally.Think about how 5 voices would perform this and do so.3. Use your bodies to create a tableaux that represents thisopening paragraph. You may move into it, freeze, and moveout of it.4. Create a sound collage that represents what one might hear ifstanding where Lopez was standing. Sound collages aredifferent sounds created with voice to make a dramatic effectand represent a feeling tone of a work.
Entering the Essay…1. Read pages 41 - 43 (stop at “After lunch…”).1. As you read, select one word, phrase orsentence that resonates and practice readingit.2. When finished, copy the word, phrase ofsentence into your notebook at the top of apage.
Entering the Essay…1. Join the class circle and have with you your notebook,opened to the word, phrase, or sentence on a piece ofpaper.2. One person will begin by stepping slightly into thecircle and then reading aloud what s/he selected.When finished, s/he will step back into place.3. Listen to what is read and if your selection connectsto it, step into the circle and say your word, phrase, orsentence aloud. Do not raise your hand . Look aroundand take turns.4. We will read aloud like this for 5 minutes.
Writing Off the Page…1. Create a written response to theword, phrase, or sentence you copied.2. Beginning with the quoted text, write aresponse that is one full page.3. Date your entry.
Entering the Essay1. (5 minutes) Talk with a partner and determine:• Where is Lopez?• Who is he with?• What is his purpose?• Reread the closing two sentences. What does he meanhere?2. (5 minutes) Join with another set of partnersand discuss your understanding of the closingtwo lines. What does he mean literally?Figuratively?
Sketching the Essay: Found Poems1. Compose a found poem based on passages you have beenassigned.2. Read/reread the assigned text.3. Select descriptive words, phrases and lines from the textand then arrange and format the excerpts to composeyour own poem.4. Place the poem you found/made on chart paper and placethe page #s on the chart paper5. Try to use no more than 50 to 75 words to capture the gistor feeling of the selection you read.6. You may add up to three of your own words.7. Title the work and then post it on the wall in the order itappears in the essay.
Dwelling: Making Found Poems1. pp. 43-44: After Lunch…the landscape opens.2. pp. 44-45: There are forty-one…intent on private thoughts.3. pp. 45-46 : On the second day…there is exploration.4. pp. 46-47 Each day we see of hear…seem so eerie.5. pp. 47-48 Two kinds of time...for each other have washedout.6. pp.48-49:There are threats…The canyon seems like agrandfather.7. pp. 49-50: One evening, Winter…what we had not imagined.8. pp. 50 -51: That last evening it rained…the translation ofwhat we had touched, began.
Dwelling: Gallery Walk of FoundPoems1. Beginning with the first poem, read each of the foundpoems.2. What insights and understandings do you now have as aresult of reading the found poetry. Consider how thesepoems, collectively, help you to understand the tenor of theessay.3. What ambiguities remain?
Reading the End of the Essay• Let’s return to the essay and read theending, beginning on page 52, “I sat in theairport in San Francisco…”
Art Conversation1. After you finish reading, engage in 20-minute artconversations discussing the sense you are making ofthe essay.1. Art conversations are nonverbal dialogues that happenbetween two or more people. Seated with a piece offinger paint paper between the partners use fingerpaint as the medium through which they converse.1. Consider color, line, movement as you and yourpartner create this visual conversation.
Follow Up Work1. Now students are ready to reread theessay, mining for meaning through doubleentry notebooks.1. HW: Ready 2 questions based on yourreadings of the text that will be used to guideour small group and whole class discussions.