Plum Flowers Teaching Module
by Todd Pitt and Dr. Kenneth Thompson


Go to Plum Flowers on the English Matters website and locate the Plum Flowers Poem Generator and the associated material about the poem and its background (the Poetry of Witness, The Rape of Nanking, and The Plum Flowers Project).

Generate Five Pseudorandom Poems Using the Plum Flowers Generator. Print them out or cut/paste them into a Word document. Write down your reactions to each of the five iterations of the poem and to the experience of reading a poem that builds variation into its structure. Note any similarities you see in the five versions (form, language, etc.) as well as differences.

In conjunction with this assignment, answer the following questions:

  1. What is parataxis?
  2. What is the poetry of witness?
  3. Who are some poets who have written poems of witness? Find several titles of poems written in the genre.
  4. What is The Rape of Nanking? Have you ever heard of the event and if so from what source?
  5. Why do you think the author calls the poems generated by the Poem Generator Pseudorandom?
  6. Do you think they are truly random?
  7. Can you determine what Object Oriented Programming Language was used to create the Plum Flowers Pseudorandom Poem Generator?