21G.044 | Fall 2011 | Undergraduate

Classics of Chinese Literature


In-class Assignment: Poetry Storyboards

Poetry Exercise

Poetry is often difficult to interpret because the language is figurative and imagistic. One way to approach a poem is through visualization. This often works particularly well for Chinese poems due to the link between poetry and painting.

For this exercise, I would like you to visualize a set of Chinese poems by creating a “storyboard” for the poem. A storyboard is a set of drawings used in filmmaking that maps out how the story will be told. Imagine that you are making a film or short video of the poem and map out a series of images that will tell the story underlying the poet’s vision. You do not need to know how to draw well for this exercise. You can use stick figures and abstract drawings, as well as words to describe each scene. The important thing is to be able to mentally visualize the images from the poem. Also try to imagine where the poet (or “camera”) directs his vision. How would you use close-ups, long shots, cut-aways, etc. Be creative and use your imagination. However, stick to trying to “see” things as the poet sees them. You can also think of sounds — not a musical soundtrack, but any sounds in the poem (for example, a bird call or gibbon’s cry). Try to come up with at least one picture per stanza. In other words, a 10 stanza poem should have 10 frames in the storyboard.

You will work together in pairs.

Good luck!

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2011
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments