Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Amanda returns tonight. Touches down in East Boston at 8:56.
Read & discussed Jordan Davis' poem "W" in a Brit Lit class today. "Brit Lit?," you ask. "Yes," I answer. "W" deals (humorously & seriously, I think) w/ many theories about monsters. & in the Brit Lit curriculum here at GHS we teach _Beowulf_, _Grendel_, _Lord of the Flies_, _Frankenstein_ as well "Tyger" & "The Second Coming" (though most teachers only dabble in the poetry).

(Ach! the poem is back in my classroom; I'm typing in the copier room during my prep block. {Since this is the last block of the day there's no more prep to be done, though plenty of grading.}) In any case the poem is polyvocal (no single narrator it seems or no single occasion for narration perhaps) & so offers the students a bit of a challenge, but no one they were unwilling to take up. The discussion was heartening. They were willing to talk about the different tones of the different narrators. (Or perhaps one narrator w/ many tones. As a romantic, I'm tempted to read J.D.'s poems this way.) This possibility was in fact enormously helpful to them in understanding/experiencing the poem. (Understanding implies a kind of *answer* that I'm not sure the poem gives.) Maybe I'll have a chance to talk more specifically about the poem later but I thought I'd jot down a few things about a specific poem I like (& teach) so maybe others could do the same.

Also if non-bloggers want to write a little informal response to a particular poem, I could post said responses here.

Off to a school newspaper meeting, my next teacherly task.


Monday, October 06, 2003

At GHS late grading papers.
Would like to hear more about the Friday & Saturday readings at Waterstones from those who were there. New poems from Mr. Bouchard? Was tired & disturbed by the world Saturday. A good day to stay in Gloucester. Sad to miss the poems. In better spirits on Sunday & am glad not to have stayed home. Many thanks to all who made the day. Many thanks to the weather too. Thanks to my students for not lynching me when I came in without all their essays graded. When I return home I'll finish rereading Midwinter Day lent to me by Tim Peterson. Many thanks to Tim. Many thanks to yesterdays Wordsworth readers.
Finally got around to checking out the Boston Comment stuff. (Yup I know I'm behind. Look at the date of my last post.) The Post-Post Dementia essay gets downright silly when discussing Christina Mengert's poem in Slope.
Here's the poem

Is an axle's excavation
an axiom's inversion
that muzzles
the ventriloquist breath

of a nipple. The revolving door
of its throat.

Though Houlihan says words don't matter in Mengert to my eye & ear they seem chosen quite purposefully. Houlihan says "revolving" might just as well be "sliding," etc. But what then about the "axel"? (& its suggestion also of "axle")? She says "throat" might just as well be "scalp"; what then of the "breath"? I'm not going to argue that it's a great poem but to say that the word choices are random & meaningless is just plain silly.

So I propose, bloggers of the ghost city, that we--I guess me too--take a bit of time to talk about some poems we like, love, find pleasure in, find x in, etc. What is it that we see there? Dementia?
I've only recently been able to listen to The Smiths again. For many years the music too painfully reminded me of adolescence & young adulthood--all my shortcomings, cowardice, failures, awkwardness, loneliness, misunderstandings, delusions, etc. But now I can hear the music again & I hear it half remembering but half uncomprehending what it was I once heard, since now the pleasures in the music are quite different than they were then.
To Shin Yu & Aaron: I would like to nominate as anthems of a sort, "Ask" & "Stretch Out & Wait". I should also say that due to my age my first Smiths tape was Strangeways, Here We Come. Because I had it w/ me in England & Scotland at age 16 the music has a particularly lurid sonic glow.