Friday, January 24, 2014

Worked Working Work

That word looks weird now. Work.

I'm doing lots of work. Yesterday I didn't do lots of work. I mean, except the part where I taught my classes and went to office hours. That was work. I had my kids talk about Twilight and feminism. And evaluating sources. I'm the cool teacher. Deal with it.

(They're not going to think I'm so cool when I make them read Freud's The Uncanny.)

Later I had dinner with Austin, then I went to the Frog with Olivia + many good people.

Now I have to do work.

We had last Monday off, so our first Forms of Poetry class will be this Monday. Before class, we have to read roughly 100 pages of William Carlos Williams, watch a documentary about WCW, and write a 2-3 page essay about his concept of imagination. I just finished watching the documentary. The only poems of Williams' that I've read before are the two that everyone reads: "This is Just to Say" and "The Red Wheelbarrow." Needless to say, I never found him particularly interesting. I was never inclined to read any of his other poems. But now I sort of want to! Lots of his other poems were in the documentary, and I liked them much better. He apparently wrote a poem called "Paterson" that goes on for five volumes and is a sort of hodge-podge of poetry and articles and letters, which is similar to the style of fiction that I like to write (at least sometimes). Why don't they ever assign any of his other work in school?

Austin and I were actually discussing this last night. I think that people might like poetry a lot more in general if they were exposed to more of it--more modern poetry, more experimental poetry, etc. The only poems I can remember reading in high school are the two WCW poems I mentioned before, Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Hollow Men," Frost's "The Road Not Taken," some of Shakespeare's sonnets, and--strangely--John Donne's "Batter my heart, three-person'd God." I probably read some more in Brother Tom's AP Lit class, but I don't remember what. Why are these the only poems people seem to read in school? There is so much more poetry out there, and yet I've read almost none of it, probably because I never read any poetry that appealed to me because I was exposed to so little. (Although I must admit I think "The Hollow Men" is a great poem, mostly because it's creepy.) I wonder if it's just a cycle--some teachers decided that these would go in the curriculum, and then the people who learned those poems only knew those poems, so when they became teachers they chose to teach those poems, and so on. I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but still. Also, why all the emphasis on what a poem means? Sometimes words are just words that mean what they mean. Words that are carefully chosen and carefully placed. They don't have to be symbols.

Rant complete.

Anyway, while I was doing all that not-working yesterday, I was also not blogging. So now I'm back where I was the other day: I need to do four days of double poems to catch up. Today shall be one of those days.

First: a pantoum that I wrote during office hours because I didn't have an internet connection. Actually, it's an almost-pantoum. I cheated at the end. Not sure it makes much sense, but at least I finished it, because I failed the last time I tried to write a pantoum.

New Office

Excess is peering in my window.
My computer doesn't work.
The air inside is gray.
No caffeine is ever enough.

My computer doesn't work
the way it should.
No caffeine is ever enough
to keep my circuits going.

The way it should
be is the only way
to keep my circuits going,
but it's too ideal.

Be is the only way
to exist, isn't it?
But it's too ideal;
We can never really hope

to exist. Isn't it
funny how two worlds
we can never really hope
to live in line up?

Funny how two worlds
can show us how
to live in line. Up
on the mountains who

can show us how
excess is peering in my window?
On the mountains how
the air outside is gray.

Second: a joke. Don't worry, William Carlos Williams. I fixed it for you.

Service

so much depends
upon

those three white
bands

bright life semi
circles

above date and
time.

Correction: In Wednesday's post, I referred to a certain "I-forget-who" writing a poem in which all the words began with the letter "u." Austin has informed me that said poem was written by Christian Bök, and that the only vowel used in the poem was "u," rather than the first letter of each word. One of these days I'll learn to pay more attention and write these names down when I hear them...

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