Saturday, September 27, 2008
Recharging the Batteries
So, I did what my undergraduate teacher did (albeit in a much larger gallery space). I invited the students to mill about and absorb the art. Then, I asked them to pick a piece that they felt strongly about. Only after they picked a piece of art did I give them the prompt: write a poem or story inspired by this piece of art. I emphasized the inspiration part rather that a summary of what the piece looked like.
For 25 minutes hardly anyone's pen stopped moving. There was an aura of concentrated energy in the space. Once I noticed people running out of gas, I asked for any brave volunteers to read from these very rough drafts. We gathered around each "featured" piece of art. Then, five students read out loud in a public place, and for first drafts, several knocked me back a step or two. Most of the students left with a smile, and one even stopped me outside later that day to tell me she wanted to go back and write about some of the other pieces.
Sometimes it's the little victories that help the most.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
An Evening of Arkansas Authors
Pulaski Technical College Presents
An Evening of Arkansas Authors
Author Readings and Discussion
Tuesday, September 30th 6:30pm – 8:00pm
R.J. Wills Lecture Hall, Campus Center Building
Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society
Kevin Brockmeier, author of The View from the Seventh Layer
Hope Coulter, author of Dry Bones
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Grasping at Minutes
I am just about reconciled to being a summer writer, at least for generating new work. I know other academics who work this way, but I had hoped I'd be able to "settle into" my teaching career enough to free up some time during the school year to do some serious drafting. It doesn't look to be happening anytime soon. I make small revisions. I work on the manuscript as new deadlines for book submissions approach. I am carving out time tonight to focus on submissions--the stack of folders teeters to my left. In other words, like so many others out there, I make do.
We've just completed Week 5 of a 16 week semester.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Reginald Shepherd 1963-2008
More importantly, having read his work and admired it deeply, his voice will be missed.
For Robert Philen
You are like me, you will die too, but not today:
you, incommensurate, therefore the hours shine:
if I say to you “To you I say,” you have not been
set to music, or broadcast live on the ghost
radio, may never be an oil painting or
Old Master’s charcoal sketch: you are
a concordance of person, number, voice,
and place, strawberries spread through your name
as if it were budding shrubs, how you remind me
of some spring, the waters as cool and clear
(late rain clings to your leaves, shaken by light wind),
which is where you occur in grassy moonlight:
and you are a lily, an aster, white trillium
or viburnum, by all rights mine, white star
in the meadow sky, the snow still arriving
from its earthwards journeys, here where there is
no snow (I dreamed the snow was you,
when there was snow), you are my right,
have come to be my night (your body takes on
the dimensions of sleep, the shape of sleep
becomes you): and you fall from the sky
with several flowers, words spill from your mouth
in waves, your lips taste like the sea, salt-sweet (trees
and seas have flown away, I call it
loving you): home is nowhere, therefore you,
a kind of dwell and welcome, song after all,
and free of any eden we can name
Monday, September 8, 2008
I ask my students simply to give the literature a chance. I ask them to be open-minded and curious. Today, I was reminded that I need to be the same with my students. My hope is that we all learn something from each other by the end of the semester.
Today, I am grateful to be teaching such diverse students, who may yet teach me more about the literature that I love.