Photo provided by Josh BrewerJosh Brewer teaches poetry, comp, and Early Modern America at Ivy Tech.





Josh Brewer talks about litotes, imagery, and revision in “Dying Mantis.”

This video was created by Damon Mohl and Josh Brewer.

Dying Mantis

By Josh Brewer

This has nothing to do with a mantis
praying, nor dying,

except she was kneeling,
doing a little sidestep, eyes round, reflecting,

raising your abdomen with a bent thorax
and shaking your left legs.

Look—she became you
Transmigrated I suppose.

I moved the blue bucket
to block the sun—watched you writhe,
turn brown as the porch,
leafy green wings still.

Later I watered you
as if you were a plant.

You moved a bit
lifting her head one last time.

[“Dying Mantis” was the first poem Josh Brewer wrote for his MFA program, so this is just an iteration. Poetry Quarterly published it.]

Writing Prompt: Josh Brewer and Damon Mohl invite you to participate in the video’s interactive writing prompt. Watch the video and hit pause while you respond to Josh Brewer’s questions and write your responses.

Definition of Terms

Litotes is an ironic use of understatement that expresses an affirmative through negation of its contrary.

An idiom is a phrase or expression that has a figurative meaning (that is different from its literal meaning), like “a blessing in disguise.”


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