Archive for the ‘Arrangment Exercise’ Category

In class today, you will receive a copy of a recent submission to the poetry journal I edit, Seven Corners. 7C is a solicitation-based journal that publishes Chicago poets and other poets from a liberal Midwestern vicinity. Since I solicit work, you do not have to worry about making qualitative judgments about this submission. The submission is in the order I received it (sans cover letter), but if I were arranging this, I would rearrange the submission to make it a coherent post as a group of texts (I never assume the author has done this).

You do, however, need to read these poems by Thursday, give them some consideration, and apply an arrangement strategy or strategies that we have discussed previously, both in class and on the blog.

On Thursday, when we meet in small groups, each group will discuss the arragement strategy that each person has come up with and figure out a group strategy. A designated speaker will then “pitch” the order the group decided on to the group. If the three groups come up with different arrangements, we will vote as a class on which we prefer based on the argument of the pitches.

Then I will publish that arrangement on 7C.

Rationale: For the final portfolio, I want you all to be more concerned with arranging your work as a collection of texts. I am certainly concerned with this as a literary editor, and this assignment allows you access to a real-world arrangement activity dealing with creative writing where I hope the thinking mirrors what you might do while building your final portfolio.


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While arrangement is one of the five tradition canons of classical rhetorical training, it is often not studied at all in creative writing, although it is important to think about once you begin to assemble a body of works.

As you know from the midterm portfolio experience, considering works in relation to one another is much different from considering them as independent texts. How will this group of texts communicate with each other?

While brainstorming, I came up with a number of ways that I think about arranging a body of works, a taxonomy of literary arrangements. I categorize the arrangment strategies as either pragmatic or aesthetic, although there may be other categories that can be separated out from these. Arrangment techniques function for collections of poems, stories, plays, or essays as well as anthologies, journals, and textbooks, etc.


  • alphabetic: arrangement by name, typically the author’s
  • genre: in a multigenre work, things may be arranged by the genre classification
  • rank/cachet: by perceived importance
  • chronological: arranged by a strict date order
  • historical/periodical: grouping works together by literary period or school i.e. Victorian, Postmodern
  • geographic: by location
  • race
  • class
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • ability
  • age
  • mode/media: technological mode of production used to arrange i.e. oral traditions separated from printed separated from hypertextual, etc.
  • stylistic: the ways an author or authors use language


  • melodic: a musical grouping intending to achieve beauty
  • communicative: a grouping devised so that the pieces speak to one another (also: conversational, dialogic)
  • juxtapositional: a grouping strategy that puts unlike pieces together to create a jarring, surprising effect (also: dialectical arrangement)
  • rhetorical: uses pieces in a tactical way to make a larger argument or persuade
  • harmonic: uses pieces in unison like a chord blends notes on a piano or guitar
  • dissonant: uses pieces in unresolved, indeterminate, or discordant ways to create an effect, often confusion or displeasure
  • collagic: applies the tenets of collage or cut-up; often shows the rough edges and “tape” between pieces in an arrangement
  • narrative (master/meta): using small pieces to tell a larger story, think chapters in a book or sections in a longer poem or interrelated short stories or poems in a collection or journal
  • confrontational: an arrangement in which the pieces are at war with one another or the audience
  • hybrid: an arrangement based on blending, either of different genres or of different arrangement styles
  • interactive/hypertextual: an arrangement style that allows the audience freedom when interacting with the work (difficult to do in print medium although not impossible)
  • logical/mathematical: using classical logic or numerical formulas to dictate arrangements of works e.g. Fibonacci sequences, if/then, syllogisms, etc.
  • chance/indeterminate/constraint-based: using a devised process of operations to dictate arrangement e.g. dice, I Ching hexagrams, coins, Tarot cards, etc.

Exercise: Now that we’ve looked at arrangement types, it’s time to use New Sudden Fiction to do an arrangement activity. In your small group, please briefly consider a possible overall structure for the anthology by glancing through texts (I realize we have picked and chosen out of sequence). Does it seem to fit into any of the above categories? Why? (5 minutes)

Next, take five stories we’ve read (assigned below) and devise your own arrangement for them. Be able to tell the larger group why you chose to do arrange them how you did. What method(s) did you use? How did the decision-making process work? (15 minutes)

Chicago Fire: Wallace 255, Amir 182, Wolff 47, Hollowell 25, Smith 105

Tender Buttons: Palanhiuk 277, Jin 189, Tubania 288, Ehrhardt 150, Bender 63

AAA&LSD: Brown 142, Orner 29, Amick 196, Kolaya 222, Evitmova 85

Share your ideas with the whole class (10 minutes).

For Later: Pick and choose stories to create your own arrangement of five by practicing using the above methods of arrangment.

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