Learning in the Digital Era: Creative Writing Project - 'Animals'

Reflections on the task:

The task was to complete a research project on the broad subject of Animals, and present findings, in a manner relevant to my discipline (Creative Writing), as five web pages. This presented several issues, since to write a fictional/creative piece, the importance of academic rigour regarding research sources carries less weight than would be required for a serious non-fictional study. Put simply, entirely fallacious sources are often more inspirational for fiction than peer-reviewed models. Furthermore, it is inappropriate to reference sources within the body of a fictional or poetic text, and self-referential language is often necessary.

As an example, my existing body of work features only two pieces that would relate to the theme. The first is a poem concerning the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the realities of meat production with the traditional poetic image of lambs frolicking in springtime meadows. The inspiration for this work derived from watching lambs on a hillside, and a historical understanding of farming techniques, rather than any specific literary or academic source.

The second is a Haiku, written for a virtual live performance at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NYC. The theme for the evening was ‘Spirit Animals’, so I opened my performance with this haiku:

Spirit Animal

I am cuttlefish.
Jet-propelled cephalopod.
Self-defense with ink.

In contrast, I did conduct ‘research’, for this piece, by watching Zefrank’s “True Facts About the Cuttlefish”, but this can hardly be considered an academically reliable source.

Richard Temple with a python

To counter these limitations, I determined to write two interlinked pieces, with a subject and style conducive to research and will include a bibliography as the final page. I have not adhered to a strict word count, since the pieces will not be marked on literary merit, so it is unimportant if the reader does not wish to read to the end of each section, though I hope the payoff for doing so has a value of its own. Since the pieces are interlinked and read sequentially, I have designed these pages as a linear progression to guide the reader through the larger work. The header and footer menus relate to the website built to house the project and are not relevant to this assignment.

While an academic summary would be inappropriate, as by definition it would contain ‘spoilers’ for the fictional works, I will offer a literary synopsis below.

The larger work is in three parts, consisting of a two-part short story and a connected poem. The story is presented as a ‘found manuscript’ and within this conceit, part one is a note from the translator, written in academic style (though without references, since the research conducted would be out of character for the narrator). The second part is a first-person account of the events surrounding the forbidden fruit story of Genesis 3:1-5, narrated by Nachash, the serpent in the garden. Finally, the third part is a poem from the perspective of Satan, within the scenario suggested in the foregoing story.

Since the work is presented in three very different voices and styles, the use of language varies dramatically, from academic, to Biblical (with attendant grammatical and structural liberties), to modern free verse poetry. I have attempted to remain consistent within Biblical logic, and draw conclusions that, while heretical, can withstand scriptural analysis. However, it should be clear that this is a work of fiction, and is not intended to represent my own beliefs or cause offense (any Blasphemy is on the part of Nachash or Satan). Any similarity to people, snakes, deities or demons, living, dead, or existing within an ineffable existential state, is purely satirical.

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