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Writing in the Asylum: Student Poets in City Schools

reviewed by Timothy Cheeseman - 2005

coverTitle: Writing in the Asylum: Student Poets in City Schools
Author(s): Jennifer McCormick
Publisher: Teachers College Press, New York
ISBN: 0807744891, Pages: 124, Year: 2004
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Do not be mistaken, this book is not about poetry. Jennifer McCormick’s Writing in the Asylum: Student Poets in City Schools is an indictment of urban, inner city educational policy, institutions, and process. Therein is the major flaw of this book; the arguments it puts forward are couched in adolescent cliché and academic doublespeak, and the writing never establishes a focus or provides epiphany. The book is divided into five chapters with no apparent scheme, including cryptic titles such as She Gave Me a Poet’s Name, Discard and Permanence in Postindustrial New York, and Escape Routes. Without a clear organization, the book never finds its soul or establishes a controlling idea of any kind.  The text is essentially pieced out in three different strategies: analytical text about the failure of urban schooling, samples of student poetry, and obtuse attempts to connect writing poetry to the pain and despair of poverty.... (preview truncated at 150 words.)

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 107 Number 11, 2005, p. 2487-2489
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11828, Date Accessed: 8/1/2021 4:34:29 PM

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About the Author
  • Timothy Cheeseman
    Shawnee High School (Lima, OH), Ohio Northern University and Tiffin University
    E-mail Author
    TIMOTHY CHEESEMAN currently teaches English at Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio and Writing/Poetry at Ohio Northern University and Tiffin University. He began his graduate studies in 1992 at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado and received an M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and a B.S. from The Ohio State University. From 1987-92/96 he was a professional social worker in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio and specialized in adolescent counseling and homelessness. In between all that he taught for a year in Santa Fe, New Mexico and lived in Espanola. He has also worked as a college instructor, cook, janitor, naturalist, and reporter among other jobs. He has recently published poetry in The Evansville Review and Facets Literary Magazine; criticism in Teachers College Record; and received the 1998 Sacramento Poetry Prize. Timothy Cheeseman currently lives in Lima, Ohio with his wife Kellie and sons Tristam and Charley.
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