Writing a timed essay for the AP exam on “Juggler” by Richard Wilbur was much like juggling; students had to manage a prompt asking them to analyze the juggler and the speaker’s attitude toward the juggler while considering poetic devices Wilbur detail the juggler and the speaker. Trevor Packer from College Board posted on Twitter last week that students “continue to find analyzing poetry more difficult than prose” in regard to this year’s AP Lit exam; writing about poetry may be the biggest challenge for students in AP Lit. After reading approximately 1,200 students essays, here are my observations and takeaways from this year’s reading.
What Students Did Well:
- Taking advantage of multiple entry points in the poem
- Addressing both literal and figurative meanings
- Identifying poetic devices
Even though I definitely scored more lower level essays than higher level, I was surprised at what students were able to accomplish in approximately 40 minutes. Essays scoring a 4 often offered good thoughts about the poem but failed to go deep or back up ideas with textual support. I came away encouraged that AP teachers are teaching students to find the point of the poem they connect to or identify with and enter the poem there.
Where Students Fell Short
- Failing to support analysis with evidence from the text
- Not answering all parts of the prompt
- Focusing on only one dimension of the poem
- Explaining the function of poetic devices
Aka: Wayne Elise Juggler is a pickup artist in San Francisco and has made several media appearances including a documentary on UK televisio.
In spite of some good ideas, fewer students were able to write upper level essays on “Juggler.” The main reason for this was simply not developing ideas fully or offering textual support. This could be because students don’t have enough practice or the skill set to work at this level or there was just not enough time to handle a multiple-pronged prompt paired a difficult poem.
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Methods of Organization
- Insights – each paragraph began with a big picture idea or theme further unpacked with textual evidence and/or devices linked back to the meaning
- Stanzas – analysis and devices are discussed in the order in which they are introduced
- Devices – the most formulaic of the methods rarely yielding an essay no higher than a 6
Essays in the upper half were typically organized by insight or stanzas feeling more organic in nature and less formulaic than device 1, device 2, and device 3; however, struggling writers and thinkers may find structure and security in organizing by device. If students choose to organize by device, they must be sure to include not only the identification of the device but also the function and how the device reinforces the overall theme.
Takeaways for Analysis
- Give students tools to help them unpack complexity within analysis such as contrasting ideas within a passage, utilizing transitions to emphasize a layering of ideas, or considering multiple meanings within a text.
- Write not assuming the reader can make all of the connections; clearly express each step in the thought process. I read several essays that told about how Wilbur uses imagery by describing the juggler as “sky blue.” This is obvious. Students who took the extra step to discuss how the juggler who is on earth but wears sky-blue highlights his ability to defy gravity – or the weight of the world – are answering the “so what” question. Teach students to ask and answer the “so what” question with every point.
- Provide students with plenty of opportunity to practice analyzing poetry individually. Poetry is most often studied as a class giving students the advantage of unpacking the meaning with a community of learners; this is probably the best way to learn and study poetry. The closer it gets to the end of the year, however, layers of scaffolding should gradually be removed until the student is practicing handling poetry on his or her own.
- Teach structure; students who wrote about the structure of the poem generally had upper level essays. Several students wrote about the first stanza ending mid-sentence “with five red balls” and the second stanza beginning with “To shake our gravity up” underscoring the overall theme of gravity and the juggler’s ability to defy it. Many students were also able to discuss the “But” at the beginning of stanza three and how it serves as the shift in the middle to a more complicated tasks (table, broom, and plate) and the meaning of this. Unpacking structure typically equates to higher-level thinking skills.
- Always use an adjective before the words diction, tone, and syntax. The poet uses words and sentences to write; we can all agree on that. Be specific with these terms. Discussing syntax doesn’t have to be overly complicated. By simply showing that Wilbur uses a series simple clauses such as “The boys stamp, and the girls / Shriek, and the drum booms / And all come down, and he bows and says good-bye” highlights the childlike tone, and students have effectively addressed syntax. A few students wrote about the placement of the word “up” in the phrase “To shake our gravity up” and how the unusual placement of “up” illustrates the juggler’s action.
Takeaways for Writing
- Teach writing at the sentence level; the upper level essays not only offered good analysis and organization but contained well-written sentences. I was surprised at the number of essays that had insightful thoughts and ideas but lacked sentence variety and an advanced or academic vocabulary; these essays could have easily scored higher but didn’t simply due to lack of maturity of writing style. Use mentor texts or anchor essays from previous AP exams for teaching syntax and allow students to experiment and take risks with their personal style throughout the year.
- Practice sentence combining. So many essays were written using simple sentences. Even if student are not able to write with a mature style and voice, they can combine simple sentences. Consider the following sentences: “The juggler is sky blue. The sky blue represents freedom. The juggler feels free.” These can easily be combined to “The juggler wears ‘sky blue’ representing freedom showing that the juggler feels free.”
- Write succinctly; say what needs to be said in the briefest way possible. Don’t waste words on plot summary (even in a poem) or use unnecessary adjective or adverbs. Every word counts!
- The date included in this year’s prompt (1949) caused many students to analyze this poem in relation to World War II. Several students discussed how the red balls represented bombs and the “shaking gravity up” represented the chaos of war. I always instruct my students to take advantage of everything given to them including dates in the prompt, the title of the work, and footnotes and will continue to do this; however, students should not force a connection they are not able to back up with clear evidence from the text.
- Many students saved Q1 for their last essay. I love that teachers are helping students know that they have choice and control in the exam. Students should have a plan of how they will answer the essay questions. AP teachers have different opinions on what order essays should be written; the thoughts on this are not as important as the concept that the student should have a plan before test day. Empower students to take the test rather than the test take them.
- Working with students is fun. I read a whole essay comparing the juggler to the Cat in the Hat, outlining a recipe for sausage balls because I might be hungry after reading essays all day, or relating the up and down motion of the balls to the Chicago Blackhawks season. My favorite line, however, was “Damn, what an essay” concluding a very well written essay playing off the “Damn, what a show” phrase in the poem.
He slowly withdraw from coaching after 2010. Christian Hudson initially worked with Wayne Elise to develop Charism Arts, but later left to for his own company, The Social Man.
- Personal Data
- Trademark Advice
- Juggler (Wayne Elise)'s Credentials & Experience
- Notable Media Appearances
Personal DataCommercial Alias Name: Juggler
Real Name: Wayne Elise
Date of Birth:October 01, 1969 (Age 51)
Height: 6'2 (188cm)
- Pick Up Artist (PUA)
- Dating Coach
- Dating Author
Affiliated Dating Companies:Charisma Arts
Web PresencesTwitter profile:@wayne_elise
Trademark Advice and Main ConceptsJuggler was one of the first dating coaches to advocate a more natural style, less dependent on scripted lines and more on principles and techniques that people could keep in mind and use while allowing their natural personality to shine through. As time went on the little scripted material and techniques that he did advocate were dropped and now the system that he teaches is very elegant and quite simple.
Early techniques that were introduced into the dating-advice community were SOI's (Statement Of Intent) where you explicitly state your romantic or sexual interest due to some unique trait or behavior of the woman you are interested in. Another famous Juggler technique is the vacuum. A way of putting the onus on the woman to open up and contribute to the interaction. Overall Juggler's method is based around creating an intimate vibe, deep rapport on a wide range of topics while gaining compliance from the woman (getting the woman to put effort into the interaction).
The Juggler Method Book
Personal Quotes“Putting across a warm vibe is the first step towards being accepted by a strange woman”. “Your greatest power as a pick-up artist is your ability to focus as woman entirely into the moment with you”. “But being a pick-up artist does not require spectacular lines. It requires using focusing techniques to hook a woman into a two-way relationship”. “You prompt here to make an effort > She makes an effort > You reward her with your intent > You move the relationship further towards a sexual or romantic outcome”. “The proper timing to move through the many points toward a sexual or romantic encounter is on her high points – when she says something insightful or makes an effort”. “Picking up women is like playing a game of poker. (…) Her money is her efforts, words and creativity”. “...when you amplify your expression and perform your words with commitment you convince her that you are focused on what you are talking about. This not only helps her become involved in a natural dialogue but it demonstrates that you are a man who is at ease around attractive women”. “Appearing confident is not about expressing confidence. It is about confidently expressing everything”. “Portray yourself as a desirable man who is interested in the unique qualities of a woman and not generically interested in women”. “A pick-up artist finds ways to consistently enjoy himself in the field. That keeps him motivated and in the long run makes him the best pick-up artist he can be”.
Personal LifeBefore Juggler became involved in the pick-up scene he was working as a comedian and street performer as a juggler and escape artist, which is how he came up with his pseudonym. He became involved in the pick-up community in the early 2000's and from the start offered a quite different perspective than was prevalent at the time.
In the late 2000's he started refocusing his Charisma Arts (formerly Charisma Sciences) on a broad range of conversational and social skills to both men and women. He was married in 2007 but separated and divorced in March 2009.
Wayne Elise currently lives in San Francisco.
Pickup Artist CareerJuggler was one of the first PUA's to advocate a more natural approach to pick-up, focusing on some broad techniques such as a genuine and interested vibe, gaining compliance, creating rapport and making statements of intent rather than focusing on what to actually say. He was featured in the Game by Neil Strauss in which he wrote a chapter about meeting Neil and advising him to try being more in the moment and making the seduction process more mutual.
In 2006 Charisma Arts was featured in a Channel 4 Documentary in which Juggler and Johnny Saviour take 3 students who are having trouble meeting and dating women and teach them how to improve their success using Juggler's method.
Since Juggler's method is very natural and mainly based around gaining compliance it is also applicable in non-seduction settings. In the late 2000s Juggler expanded his work-shops and seminars to teach both men and women conversational skills that are applicable in all areas of life.
Juggler (Wayne Elise)'s Credentials & ExperienceTD (Owen Cook) said of Juggler in 2003: “I agree with EVERYTHING that Juggler says in terms of his METHOD. I feel that its a strong method with few flaws - for guys who have FUNDAMENTALS down. I DISAGREE with what Juggler says about being genuine, as it does not cause problems for me - nor do I think that anything that I do is not genuine”.
Juggler is one of the few pick up artists who got married. However, he divorced his wife, Marie, in March 2009. Below some photos of them together.
Notable Media Appearances
Books, Courses and Coaching & Juggler (Wayne Elise) Reviews
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