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Multigenre Inspired Writing

Page history last edited by Dawn Mitchell 12 years, 8 months ago

This page is designed to share the multigenre texts we have written in class as a result of our multigenre unit of study.  Our course text, Units of Study is based on the underlying framework that what we write should be inspired by what we read. From immersing ourselves in a variety of well-written multigenre texts spending time in close study noticing author's craft, we have each tried our hands at writing our own multigenre texts.  Please post yours here and specifically address "What have you read that is like what you are trying to write?"  In other words, let us know your mentor text(s) and any author's craft you were intentional about implementing.   *Please add your first and last name and the title and author of your text with your post. 

 

Multigenre Texts We've Written and the Authors Who've Inspired Us

 

During the Spartanburg Writing Project Summer Institute of 2008, I was inspired by reading the latest reviews of the new cd released by one of my favorite artists, Dolly Parton.  I was inspired to write my own review, more of a rebuttal than anything else, but I also saw a thread of a theme that I wanted to continue that focused on music and it's power over us.  The result is a multi-genre portfolio that focused around music and songs.  by Dawn Mitchell

 

Just A Backwoods Barbie - A Review By Dawn Mitchell

 

Dolly Parton recently released her latest cd, Backwoods Barbie, marking her return to popular country radio after a few years dabbling into her bluegrass roots.  On the cd cover, there is a 62 year-old woman in a leopard-print mini-dress cinched at the miniscule waist, stunning décolletage blooming underneath a floor-length fuschia dressing gown that suggests more boudoir than country bar.  From her megawatt smile to her hooker heels, delicately posing in a hay-filled bed of an antique pick up truck, Dolly beckons me to listen to her music.  Seriously?  Seriously, I loved it.

 

I read reviews in Newsweek and online, praising Dolly for her perseverance in the youth-driven music industry and for her amazing ability to remain true to herself with tongue-in-cheek references to her persona and physique.  I read those reviews, but felt like they were written by people who were assigned to review her cd, not by fans who had season DollyWood passes and thought “Coat of Many Colors” and country when they heard her name instead of curves and plastic surgery.

 

Through the title track, “Backwoods Barbie”, Dolly acknowledges her critics by singing about her appearance.  “I’m just a backwoods Barbie in a push up bra and heels.  I might look artificial, but where it counts I’m real.”  In this track, she asks listeners to give her a second chance.  “I’ve always been misunderstood because of how I look.  Don’t judge me by the cover ‘cause I’m a real good book.  So read into it what you will, but see me as I am.  The way I look is just a country girl’s idea of glam.” 

 

            Track 1 of her new cd, “Better Get to Livin’ and Track 5, “Jesus and Gravity” are trademark Dolly.  “Better Get to Livin” is this album’s first release and it is as upbeat and positive as Dolly herself.  She sings, “Share your dreams and share your laughter, make some points for the great hereafter.”  Her unfailing optimism and faith shine through in these tracks and each one provide insight into her long-term success as a singer, songwriter, actress, entertainer, and entrepreneur.

 

As a fan of “Jolene” I am drawn to her songs of faded love and heartsick women.  Track 9, “I Will Forever Hate Roses” and track 11, “Cologne” definitely fit the bill.   In “Cologne”, Dolly sings of forbidden love.  “You ask me not to wear cologne, she’ll know you’ve been with me alone, and you can’t take our secret home so you ask me not to wear cologne.” Okay, so Track 3, “Drive Me Crazy” a remake from The Fine Young Cannibals may have been a stretch, even for Dolly, but it is catchy especially if you were never a fan of the original version.  

 

As a critic, I know Dolly may be a little too much for some listeners who can’t get past the big hair and big personality to really hear her music for what it is, original.  As a fan, I know that her music is worth another listen.   In “Backwoods Barbie”, Dolly’s last verse is “Yes, I can see where I could be misjudged upon first glance; but even backwoods Barbie’s deserve a second chance.”

 

Three Chords and the Truth - A Slice of Life Piece by Dawn Mitchell

 

Whenever I mention my love for bluegrass and hard core, old-school country music, I immediately receive a shocked glance and watch as my reputation falls like the mercury in a thermometer around here during the first frost.

 

“I would have never guessed that about you,” a fellow instructor at a local university told me when this fact was revealed after a few months of teaching educators writing strategies.   

 

“Are you serious?” a friend asked deadpan when I excitedly mentioned Dolly Parton’s “Backwoods Barbie” cd’s upcoming release date.

 

I actually bought this cd.  I bought it and listened to it, not once to write a review or to satisfy my curiosity after seeing her perform as a guest on American Idol, but I listened to it every time I was in the car for a solid month.  Heck, I’m still listening to it.  Dolly ranks up there with Allison Krauss and Patty Loveless for me.  I grew up listening to her voice filter through my first portable radio thinking that she was an original, her heart just pouring right out of her mouth, pure and proud and country.  I was hooked, stuck stronger than those acrylic nails on that sound.

 

When I was little I would tell everyone that nobody could sang like Dolly.  Some artists sing their songs.  What’s different about good country music artists is that they don’t just sing, they sang.  And sangin’ is on a different level entirely.  You have to feel it, know it, have grown up with it, to be able to sang it. 

 

I can’t explain it.  I can’t apologize for it.  I just can’t.  Two things that I know education and experience cannot pull me out of  are my refusal to accept that anything cooked in a cast iron fry pan is bad for you and my unwavering loyalty to “real” country music.  I have friends and colleagues who outgrew or escaped both and while I can read and write essays, create thoughtful lesson plans, and conduct powerpoint presentations extolling critical thinking, I cannot change my radio dial to anything that doesn’t have Johnny Cash or Dolly in the line up.  You can take the girl out of the country, but you just can’t take the country out of the girl.

 

When I hear Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and other originals, true to themselves singing the songs that I grew up listening to in the cab of my daddy’s old 62 Chevrolet, I am home.   I am the me that is not defined by education, or appearance, or financial status.  I am the me before critical self-reflection and peer pressure.  I am the me that spends most of my time reading and dreaming, imagining myself up there on the Grand Old Opry stage sangin’ about lost love and family and home.  I am the woman who sings backup to a 62 year old legend in a leopard print mini-dress.  I have heard it said that country music is just “three chords and the truth.”  No matter how intellectual or “citified” I become, the truth gets me every time. 

 

Song Is Still The Same:  A Poem by Dawn Mitchell

 

I hear an old Don Williams song

Waft through the radio

And I think of you

With a catch in my throat.

 

Transported to idle drives

In an old Chevrolet truck,

Turquoise and white frame,

Singing Haggard and Jones.

 

Oblivious to scabbed knees, dirty feet,

Chewed edges of my ponytail

Swinging to the rhythm

As we sang Dolly’s 9 to 5.

 

You validated me

During those summer drives,

Me with a book in my hand

And a song in my heart.

 

It poured out of my mouth

Like clear creek water .

Who I was, not determined

By education or appearance.

 

I call you at work,

Sing you the chorus.

For a moment, our paths connect,

A wireless interstate duet.

 

Been awhile since we’ve sang

summer songs together.

It was a short season

of just me and you.

 

We drove side by side again

To hold your third grand baby.

I slid over, turned on the radio

As we sang, I saw,

 

For the first time,

Silver-streaked temples

Softened jaw, blue eyes weathered

In the cab’s afternoon light

 

Our song is still the same.

 

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