Walt Whitman? Emily Dickenson? Adrienne Rich?
I have an anthology of Contemporary American Poets, and I don’t even know half of these people. Let alone the general populous of non-poetry reading folk. I’d suspect most people have heard of Walt Whitman, but they might think he’s only a bridge in Manhattan. I don’t know that it’s possible to be a known author any longer. Ah the cannon of literature! Does one have to die young and dramatically like Silvia Plath to be remembered and anthologized? I hope not.
For the new young voices, who are we, and can we exist? Exist in the same sense as Whitman, where our work will be taught in classrooms to yawning English high school students, and sink in to those few who feel awake around words? I read that Robert Bly went to school with…. and the list goes on and on. Names I know, names I’ve read, names I should know. (Worth asking, too, what of the friends who didn’t make the list, the poets that never made it past being Robert Bly’s roommate and into a name in a text book?)
Perhaps I’m in an odd mood, because I was reminded again today how young I am. So is my generation the one I’m in school with? I think so, but I don’t know. But poetry is barely read anyhow, so all of it is null and void, there won’t be a new poetic generation with voices and oh wow! what that school must have been like. There are a million books and 2 million writers and who knows who read them.
Bit of a rant, I suppose. Steeped in academia, I can’t help but wonder about the world everyone else lives in, and when (if) I’ll be returning.
So Elijah and I went to see snow this past weekend! Drove up on Saturday, towards evening. We took the wrong turn off of the freeway, but the road was pretty anyhow, and I kept taking pictures out of the windows. Still, we back-tracked and eventually found our way up the mountain. I hadn’t expected the massive amount of other people who also had the idea to come see snow. People were parked all the way along the road, and people with pick ups had brought shovels to bring fill up the backs and bring snow home. There were snow men everywhere, with desert brush for hair. It was kind of great to see everyone just romping around. We kept driving higher and higher, and eventually made it near the Mountain High ski resort. Pulled to the side and walked towards the resort. We just kind of ran around on a hill, playing in the snow and sitting on a rotting log for a while. Elijah had thought walking in snow would be like walking in sand, and was shocked to sink deep into it. I guess that’s what you get for living in Texas and Tennessee. He made his first snow ball, but we didn’t have the gloves etc to make a proper snowman. It took us two hours to get back down off of the mountain, with the traffic of other snow-goers. Still, definitely worth it.
A student slept through my entire class today. As in, sitting in the back, slouched against the wall. I called him out at the end, but still.
My final letter is in, so my application goes out in the mail today. Finally. And then it is out of my house, out of my hands, and I have promised to stop obsessing over it. Really.
I wish I had a picture to post of what the scrubby mountains looked like this morning when I walked to class. For the first time, it felt like a good day. I’m basing this solely off of the shadows, but still, it was nice. The sky was a dark blue, a grey cloud blue, the morning after rain kind of blue, and the recent influx off green looked plush and like it’d be the softest thing to curl up in. Dark brown, rain drenched mountains. Tempted to blow off class and climb the path up to the near top of the one behind campus, but I’m a teacher, and I have to show up. So kids can sleep through class.
Here’s a picture of the mountains that I found, pre-rain. I don’t know who the horses are. Or the riders. It’s so much prettier now. Lush.
Why, oh why, would you email someone who will be giving you a grade at the end of the quarter something that contains “u”? I’m not saying that my student decided to leave out the the u in words, but the simple substitution of u for you (and by extension, 4 instead of for, c instead of see, and really the many other examples of text message lingo).
Words matter, especially in a poetry class. Words have weight and meaning and strength. Don’t skimp. It costs nothing to type the full word in an email. I know I get lazy and capitalization sometimes lacks, but I think that I spell most things out. But when it comes down to it, even if I don’t, I’m not about to send a professional email with such disregard to language. Come on.
Go upstairs and not sleep but wish for it, or stay up and work on my essay on which so much rides? Student work took me much longer than I thought it would. It always does. I perhaps need to not workshop the freewrites, but I want to give useful feedback.
Essay has me terrified. Even with the help from my friends. I’m going to stay up, and look like hell tomorrow, racoon-eyed and bruised, but at least Elijah is helping me out with meter in class.
There are nice people in the world. This may sound silly, but here are two examples of people doing what they didn’t need to, but it made my day a bit better.
First. I wrote about her book “cartography of birds,” but I forgot to mention that after a bit of searching on the internet, I found an email address for J L Conrad. I sent her a note, just to say that I liked her book and thanks for making something beautiful. And she wrote back to me. A very nice email, and I wouldn’t say we’ll be best friends or anything creepy like that, but it was nice to know that my silly email mattered to her. I’m sure it was nice for her to hear that her book mattered to someone as well. People matter! (I’m very hippie tonight, let’s all hug!)
Second. Ebay is a trap when avoiding work, and I’m on the quest for perfect jeans. That said, late at night on Saturday I accidentally bid on an atrocious pair. My mistake, but wow were there terrible. It looked like I was going to win and be stuck with a pair of jeans that I don’t really like instead of finding the perfect pair that I’m convinced don’t really exist. So I sent the seller a note, asking if it would be okay to pay the winning price but not be shipped the jeans, and thus not have to pay shipping as well. And lo and behold, the seller canceled my bid for me and only slightly chided me to be more careful next time. Very slightly.
That and my friends rock. All of them.
Oh books. Oh joy books! They exist, and that makes me happy. Here are some I am particularly fond of lately.
Cartography of Birds. It’s lovely, and the I emailed the author to tell her so. She wrote me back with a very kind email. People amaze me. Take a look at her book if you get a chance. The first poem is breathtaking. I was going to write my academic writing sample as an in-depth analysis of her text, but I decided I’d rather enjoy it than dissect it.
Second book I don’t have an image of. Notes of a Course of Nine Lectures on Light. It’s from 1870, and still has phrases about the humours in the eye, and spells reflection “reflexion”. There are some intriguing experiments using water with black ink and I’m working on a series of poetry using these experiments. Best thing: run your fingers down the page. You can feel where the typeset pressed into the page. I’m seriously considering “losing” this book and paying the library, but I know that no one else will find it as useful as I have then. I’m not sure. It’s from the science library, and as some of the facts are inaccurate, maybe it’ll be okay. I have a while to figure out what I’m doing.
And the final selection! Fossil Sky. This is a book/poem/map. When I decided not to write about “a cartography of birds” I decided to write about this. 54 square inch page, with the poem meandering about within the circle spread on the page. It was actually a fun project. I read into maps, the theory behind maps, the graphic design of maps, and most importantly, how we read maps. The paper tries to show how Fossil Sky must be read as a map and all preconceived notions on reading poetry have to be left behind when attempting this text. The best part about it: I had previously thought that Fossil Sky failed as a project. But in digging deeper into it, and approaching it as a map rather than a standard poem (ie on its own terms instead of the ones I forced onto it) I think it’s quite successful. Thanks University of Denver, for requiring an academic sample. This might have remained a cool but unused and unread book/text/poem/map in my collection, and that would be sad thing indeed.