On Living in the “Out of My Comfort Zone”

I’ve spent considerable time this past month or so in what I call “Out of My Comfort Zone.”  I’ve been writing a lot of things I don’t usually write.  For instance, I finished two poems a week ago — both poems fall into the rewriting women’s mythology category.  One poem retold the princess-kisses-frog-finds-prince story in the Rust Belt setting.  Another poem retold the story of Eve (from the Bible’s claim to fame).  I don’t dabble with a lot of persona poetry(although, I love reading persona poems), so while I liked both of these poems, I’m not sure they are really “me.”  Still, I sent them off to a market that publishes a lot of women’s poetry.  We will see what happens.

I have also dabbled more with the prose poem — and I have enjoyed that.  Fans of the Scrapper Poet will recall that I posted a note a few weeks ago about my confusion about the prose poem.  Still, I have found that writing prose poems does give me a “time out” from my worries about line breaks and I can focus on language more.   Believe it or not, I have also sent out three prose poems for possible publication.

And, it looks like I won’t be moving back into the Comfort Zone for awhile — at least not entirely.  Next semester I am teaching a British Literature survey class.  Now, I have taught this class before but it has been at least six years.  I have grad work in Brit Lit — and this class, which covers 1800 to the present, is my favorite time period.  I love the 19th century novel.  But alas, my students don’t.  Even my students who love to read avoid the thick masses of Dickens, Austen, and Hardy.  So, I am using an anthology, but I’m looking for the perfect Victorian novel.  I have already decided to use War of the Worlds by HG Wells (I know, I know, not the typical choice for a survey lit class, but I have plans…)  But I want to use another one — what to do, what to do…I’m thinking either Emily Bronte or Thomas Hardy.  No, I’m not using Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!  In fact, Jane Austen is not my favorite although so many of my students love her….Do I have any Brit Lit novel readers?  What would you suggest?


  1. You may see a partial post from me–I was writing and clicked on something which made my post vanish.

    But I had to write again, in case my old post disappeared entirely. Of all the 19th century novels I’ve taught, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” has always worked best. I know it’s Romantic, not Victorian. But it seems so modern, and is such a good book to bring up so many issues.

    I’ve also had good luck with “Oliver Twist” and “Hard Times”–the easier Dickens novels, I think. And I’ve had students who loved, loved, LOVED “Jane Eyre”–“Wuthering Heights” has not had the same effect. And I’ve never had students who loved Jane Austen, with zombies or without.

    Oh, I’m jealous! I haven’t taught those time periods in so long, and occasionally, I still have literal dreams that I’m teaching a Brit Lit class. Ahhh, roads not taken or detours taken or some metaphor that’s probably tired and overused.

  2. Karen Said:

    I taught Wuthering Heights twice before — once in a Brit Lit class, and my students hated it and once in a Gothic Novel class, and my students loved it. Go figure. I did teach Jane Eyre once — a long, long time ago, and now that I think about it — my students did like it, so maybe I will take another look at this book. There’s a lot to say!

  3. Glad to hear you’re sending out your prose poems – from what I’ve seen they’ve been great!

  4. dryadart Said:

    Of course I would say teach Gilman’s short stories, they are bitingly funny and I love them, (not just the yellow wallpaper) or what about a Bellamy-esque Utopian novel from that period? Of course I like very slow brit lit… maybe because I m one. I like Hardy, or what about a really terrible bodice ripper?

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