Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Yesterday was Valentine's Day. I had my little plan in the back of my mind about what I wanted to do with my classes but when I got to school there was a red rose on my keyboard and all thoughts of essaying flew my head. It didn't help that I'd listened to Annie Lennox, LOUD, all the way across the Causeway and I was in an altered state. So I got to school and there was the rose and I flipped through the few little folders of poems I have and found William Stafford's poem, "You Reading This, Be Ready," and I decided we'd read the poem and pay attention to the moment and ready ourselves for its place in our lives. Here's the poem:

You Reading This, Be Ready

Starting here, what do you want to remember?

How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world

than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this

new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -
What can anyone give you greater than now,

starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
-- William Stafford

They dug it and the discussion was wonderful. No one in the room, including me, fears trying out ideas aloud. They've (we've) embraced the notion that there are layers and layers of the truth. We kept flittering around into subjects seemingly unrelated (like Waffle House) and one girl in the room, SS, gently returned us to sanity by saying, "and now, back to the poem." Also, I used the word "magnanimous" and someone in the class asked me to give them a cool word every day. Today I gave them "disenfranchised," and I told them about Douglass High School.
Second period I was still unwilling to return to my plan so I dug around again and found a piece, I have no idea what to call it, wherein a page-length paragraph contains nothing but numbers of things: Number of times I've been kissed: 23,300. Like that. One of the kids just started reading it aloud and then people were interjecting their own numbers of things, like "number of times I've seen my drunk uncle get into a boat without a paddle:" So I got the idea of writing down the things they were saying and I typed it, copied it for all of them, and today we had THE most relevant and true lesson on revision that I have ever known. And in the midst of it I asked them to write a reflection of the process they were going through in the revision. Tomorrow we're rewriting the things, each in our own way. I will let you know how it turns out.


Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Cool! COOL! Tres cool!

They will never forget this, even if they grow up and become accountants or big-game hunters and never think about poetry or writing again.

11:08 PM  

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