Sunday, April 29, 2012

IMT - "Compromise"

You can find an explanation of the new (and presumably random) IMT feature here.


They tried to
her with
planting bulbs,
and strong,
blooming wild
in her
purple red

They tried to
pile up
of joy
in her lap.
But nothing

They wanted
to find the
key. That
They didn't
know she'd
gobbled it
up long
by stomach
there was
no key left.

They could not
force it on
her.  Only
try to catch
when she

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another dream course I'd love to teach

Two years ago, I participated in a four-session on-campus faculty seminar on meditation and the teaching self.  Fascinating experience (and the primary reading was Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach...what's not to like?!) One of the culminating assignments for the seminar was to write up an overview of a dream course I'd love to teach at our institution, if scheduling and general education core requirements and basically "real world" concerns weren't factors.  The assignment I submitted (a course on critical thinking) resulted in my college sending me to an intensive three-day conference on critical thinking; subsequently, a Math colleague and I spent over a year developing and presenting faculty workshops at our institution on how to foster critical thinking in our students and courses. Very much a privilege to be given that much support by my institution but also a tremendous responsibility.  I'm still rather amazed at how that personal assignment mushroomed into such a major and continuing career development.

So it's with a little caution that I put in words another dream course that's taken over my imagination. I have oodles of them, not all of them very practical but filled with stuff I'd love to read and study and discuss...including a combination sociology/lit or psychology/lit course.  I'm sure a course like the one I'm about to describe is already on the books at some institutions...probably as a 400-level or graduate course.  Alas (or perhaps for the good of my sanity), I don't think it's likely that this would fit a community's a little too narrow in focus for students who need/want to complete 100- and 200-level coursework...and are not likely to be English majors.  (But I'll leave the subject of English major for another day.)

The Lost Generation
After reading Paula McLain's novel The Paris Wife, a fictional account of Ernest Hemingway's first marriage, told mainly from his wife Hadley's point of view, and after teaching some of the Modernist poets in my Modern (and Contemporary) Poetry course this semester, I'm consumed by a burning desire to teach a course on The Lost Generation, that post-WWI group of novelists, poets, artists, etc. bouncing around Europe like so many billiard balls with each encounter affecting their trajectories.
Ezra Pound
TS Eliot
Gertrude Stein
Ernest Hemingway
Wyndham Lewis
James Joyce
F. Scott Fitzgerald
and let's not forget the artists like Picasso and Matisse

I'm already fascinated by the near-incestuous literary relationships between Pound and Eliot and Stein...and by Pound's apparent charisma (EVERYONE wanted this man's opinion and approval...not just Eliot but William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, lots of "big name" writers of the age). Reading The Paris Wife (which I found compelling and heart-wrenching) and then going back to Hemingway's memoir A Moveable Feast, I'm struck anew by the energy and power of this nexus of writers. While they were very much individual and idiosyncratic, it's easy to see that their interactions fed their collective creativity and honed their writing tremendously.  (I'm still critical of Pound's extensive editing of Eliot's The Waste Land, but that's a post for some other day.) No one would confuse their voices, but their interactions (not necessarily friendships) couldn't help but drive their writing and editing and development.

It would also be interesting, I think, to explore the somewhat peripheral role of women in this conglomeration. Certainly, Stein's regular "salons" and her advice for writers like Hemingway suggest an active role in this literary movement. And her voice and poetics were very much her own. But I'm a little put off by the overall promiscuity of the group...Hemingway's infidelity in particular. (Yes, okay, personally, I'm rather morally inflexible about things like that...but I'm also kind of fascinated by the historical relationship between male charisma and infidelity...Bill Clinton was often described as charming and charismatic...we've all seen the power of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s personality...BUT I digress...that's a completely different course topic and probably not an easily constructed one....Also, not really in my discipline.)

(Note:  yup, clearly in the throes of grading hell.  My brain is grasping at all kinds of interesting and engaging topics, pulling me away from the actual work I know I need to get done.  I suspect this is very INFJ of me...Grading papers is a very detail-oriented task AND I spend a lot of time and mental energy couching my feedback in ways that are, I hope, productive for students.  So it's no wonder that my brain wants instead to play in fields of big, fun ideas, tossing around concepts and questions and texts.)

Anyway...if you could teach a course on anything...what would you want most to teach people? and who would you teach it to? And why?  Discuss.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

IMT - "Reason"

You can find an explanation of the new (and presumably random) IMT feature here.


He was too old for her
Or she was too old for him
Or he traveled too much
Or she worked too much
Or he wanted children
Or she wanted more children
Or they’d rushed into things.
Wasn’t religious enough.
Wasn’t affectionate enough.
Too political.
Always out.
Too loud.
Too much.
Never wanted sex.
Turned out to be a lesbian.
Turned out to be a different person.
It was complicated.

They stopped agreeing
On movies, on who had to walk the dog.
They never talked anymore.
They married too young,
Lost their passion,
Grew apart or
Turned out they never loved each other,
Not even as they spoke their vows.

I ,
seldom certain about much,
do not doubt

But that is not the same as faith.

Celebrating Poetry

As I mentioned yesterday (yes, my brain is on overdrive as papers and portfolios pile up around me so I'm sorta kinda procrastinating to give me fresh eyes), today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. I posted a link to the poem I'm carrying around today (in truth, I've been carrying it in my purse for a few weeks now...but that's a different and not so interesting story). 

So here are a random sampling of poems for you.  Enjoy!

My writer friends will likely either love Taylor Mali's "The The Impotence of Proofreading" or have an aneurysm:

And here's a glimpse of my (apparently conventional, almost textbook Literature Geek) high school self...I loved Dorothy Parker's "Resume" in high school. I'm disconcerted by this video, though:

A perennial favorite of mine is William Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much with Us."

And I've come to the end of my allotted free time, even though there are so many other poems I'd like to point you to.

So...what's your favorite poem?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Poem in Your Pocket Day - April 26

Here's the poem that will be in my pocket tomorrow for Poem in Your Pocket Day:

The Buried Life by Matthew Arnold : The Poetry Foundation

It's one of my favorites, which probably reveals more about me than I care to acknowledge. It certainly helps to demonstrate my preoccupation with Victorian British literature as it wrestled into a challenging new world, one of materialism and metropolism (NOTE: I was going for "urbanization" but decided I liked the alliteration, even though "metropolism" isn't really a word), one that threatened to distance people from nature and from each other.

I love so many lines in this poem...and, while I wouldn't list this one among them, I love that Arnold's line near the end "And then he thinks he knows" doesn't allow readers the comfort of thinking we can truly find closure and connection...we only think we can.

Check. 1...2...3...Is this thing on?

*waves* Hi!

First, this is my first encounter with the new version of Blogger. In general, I'm wary of change. And I don't think I like this new version. NOTE:  I definitely don't like this new Blogger composition window.

Second, I'll be starting a random feature here that I think of as "The Island of Misfit Toys" (IMT). If you're familiar with the claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, then you know that the Island of Misfit Toys is where Rudolph and Herme the Elf found themselves after they escaped (or, you know, were banished from) the North Pole. This island is home to toys that were somehow wrong...a wooden train with square wheels, a jack-in-the-box whose name isn't Jack, a pink elephant with red spots (my favorite). These are toys that were deemed not good enough for children to receive as gifts. So they sit on this remote island, abandoned and unfulfilled. As is probably fitting for most children's stories, especially ones having to do with Christmas, these forlorn toys are recognized by Santa, who has just come to appreciate that differences like Rudolph's shining nose are to be appreciated, not rejected. So the poor rejected misfits eventually find happy homes.

Well, my IMT will feature my own writing misfits...pieces that I know aren't quite right but I that I still want to give a home to.

Third, I'm in the middle of crunch time this semester and way behind on grading. So, paradoxically, I may be blogging more heavily as I procrastinate (or, to reframe I recharge my mental batteries in the middle of grading). We shall see.