Sunday, March 27, 2011

Conference Jazz

Before a conference, I always seem to feel rushed, and hear myself thinking that it's not that I want to skip it, only that it's lousy timing. And yet on the flipside, I come home energized and hyper-productive.
The Pennsylvania College English Association conference in Erie this weekend was terrific. I got several ideas and ways of thinking about engaging my students, and I was grateful and happy that the other presenters took the initiative to talk with me between sessions.
I was on a poetry panel with three other poets. I read poems from my upcoming chapbook manuscript, which are inspired by the work of photographer Larry Towell. I showed Towell's images of Central America, the US Gulf, Ontario and other places as I read the poems. I like raising awareness for this important work.
With the help of a friend, I found the duplex where we lived when I was seven. We moved a lot, and it's surprising that I remember the address: 234 E. 33rd. The neighborhood is holding its own, and in places, charming. I found Jefferson Elementary and the tall house where my friend Virginia lived upstairs with her grandmother. I remember writing VIRGINIA in the snow.
So now I'm back to the home routine, but I'll already be trying some new things in class tomorrow. I think that's part of why I love teaching - I'm always learning.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finally, warmth!

The heat has been off for nearly 24 hours, and yesterday I was able to pull some saplings from the soft, saturated soil. I haven’t lived in this house for long, so I don’t know well the seasons of the gardens tucked around the small city lot. There is a long row of rose of Sharon, and they multiply with exuberance. I am pulling up their slender babies that were too rooted in fall, but now come easily. I can see the green of spring bulbs breaking ground, as well as the lilies that will fill in later. This is a lovely shade garden under some small trees, including a magnolia that arches over the driveway.
I struggle with the cold, and being on this side of warmth, all possibility, so many days ahead, is liberating. We couch our happiness these days against the backdrop of suffering in Japan, the Middle East, and here in Ohio, but still, a private happiness can add something to a connected community.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three movies

Another geeky-wonderful movie: "Helvetica." My way in to the idea of typography comes from editing Whiskey Island Magazine and the YSU Penguin Review. I am so aware of the physicality, so to speak, of a text now, and it's intriguing to hear designers talk about their love or hate of this ubiquitous, ground-breaking font.
Also saw "Basquiat," a disjointed film about this young artist who put himself into the machinery of New York celebrity art and drug culture during the age of Andy Warhol. Sad and moving story, yet the film does not follow through.
The third was "The Cave of the Yellow Dog," and high praise to Netflix for dropping a Mongolian film into my mailbox. This is a slice-of-life movie about a Mongolian sheepherder family living in the remote steppes. Beautifully filmed and hits just the right note of sweet and straight-up. Shows a lovely family dynamic - the young children have an almost unthinkable amount of responsibility, but parental discipline is gentle and the parents teach their children language for caring for each other. I was curious about this place because, well, I think I need a better sense of what my fellow earth travelers' lives and other landscapes are like. But also because when my cousin returned from his junior semester abroad in Mongolia, he told hilarious stories about yaks walking into satellite dishes and other misadventures.

Friday, March 4, 2011

On being kind and playing fair.

While Glenn Beck and others make constant references to Hitler, and their followers don't call them on it, I would rather my political and moral leaders be compared to Nelson Mandela than to Glenn Beck. We should remember that when the dust settles, we will all have to live together.