Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Falling Asleep, Reading Pirie

Reshaping High School English. Thinking of the "cult of the individual" and all of the various titles we give ourselves--me, I am--daughter, sister, girlfriend, reader, lover, best friend, female, Irish-English-Scottish, Penobscot Indian (a wee bit, though), etc. I could go on and I could label myself in ways that I might not want an internet audience to know. I am content with Who I Am.

Who are our readers? I think that is one of the things we ought to emphaize in our classrooms when we teach writing (and when we teach reading--what does the narration implicate in intention towards audience?). One of my favorite poems by Adrienne Rich:

I know you are reading this poem
late, before leaving your office
of the one intense yellow lamp-spot and the darkening window
in the lassitude of a building faded to quiet
long after rush-hour. I know you are reading this poem
standing up in a bookstore far from the ocean
on a grey day of early spring, faint flakes driven
across the plains' enormous spaces around you.
I know you are reading this poem
in a room where too much has happened for you to bear
where the bedclothes lie in stagnant coils on the bed
and the open valise speaks of flight
but you cannot leave yet. I know you are reading this poem
as the underground train loses momentum and before running
up the stairs
toward a new kind of love
your life has never allowed.
I know you are reading this poem by the light
of the television screen where soundless images jerk and slide
while you wait for the newscast from the intifada.
I know you are reading this poem in a waiting-room
of eyes met and unmeeting, of identity with strangers.
I know you are reading this poem by fluorescent light
in the boredom and fatigue of the young who are counted out,
count themselves out, at too early an age. I know
you are reading this poem through your failing sight, the thick
lens enlarging these letters beyond all meaning yet you read on
because even the alphabet is precious.
I know you are reading this poem as you pace beside the stove
warming milk, a crying child on your shoulder, a book in your
because life is short and you too are thirsty.
I know you are reading this poem which is not in your language
guessing at some words while others keep you reading
and I want to know which words they are.
I know you are reading this poem listening for something, torn
between bitterness and hope
turning back once again to the task you cannot refuse.
I know you are reading this poem because there is nothing else
left to read
there where you have landed, stripped as you are.

I think one of the writing prompts I should use in all of my Language Arts classes would involve the reading of this poem and reacting to it... I could make them do something more specific like "What is the audience of XYZ project that we are currently working on?" but I think I need to learn how to give more freedom in writing prompts. After all, their journals will be an "easy A" (as I'm sure they'll put it) and will be graded according to if they responded (honestly? I don't know, but I think you can have a sense of it) (thoughtfully? How do you make a rubric for that?) or not.

So read this poem, oh readers of my blog. :) And think about who your audience might be... Sometimes I wonder if I even have one... here, that is!

PS: I dig Adrienne Rich.

PPS: First meeting of my final project planning class tonight... What is it called...? Practical Research! Yes. There's only one other person from my cohort--Sonja--and she's taking it because she thinks she'll move to England and teach. I think I'll move to southern Minnesota. Huh. Anyway, I will ramble about that and TKAM unit notes in the near future. I have not forgotten my promises.

Off to bed... with more homework anyway! (At some point, I want to be asleep by eleven and up by seven on any given day. I've kind of wanted that for some time now, but I can't seem to get myself into that routine. Blar.)

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