Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich has died at 82. Just last night, at the Sigma Tau Delta poetry reading, my colleague shared some of Rich's work, including "The Roofwalker." She talked about how Rich's voice feminist voice remains just as relevant today as it was in 1961.

The Roofwalker
By Adrienne Rich

Over the half-finished houses
night comes. The builders
stand on the roof. It is
quiet after the hammers,
the pulleys hang slack.
Giants, the roofwalkers,
on a listing deck, the wave
of darkness about to break
on their heads. The sky
is a torn sail where figures
pass magnified, shadows
on a burning deck.

I feel like them up there:
exposed, larger than life,
and due to break my neck.

Was it worth while to lay—
with infinite exertion—
a roof I can’t live under?
—All those blueprints,
closings of gaps
measurings, calculations?
A life I didn’t choose
chose me: even
my tools are the wrong ones
for what I have to do.
I’m naked, ignorant,
a naked man fleeing
across the roofs
who could with a shade of difference
be sitting in the lamplight
against the cream wallpaper
reading—not with indifference—
about a naked man
fleeing across the roofs.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tiny Teaching Triumph

(I am borrowing "Tiny Triumph" from one of my favorite podcasts.)

The William Carlos Williams class was awesome, folks! I won't share any of the students' "This Is Just to Say" poems, but let me say that they were so much fun. Some quick observations:

1) They excelled on sex-related poems. No comment.
2) 2012 campaign managers, take note: economics ("Sorry I stole your money...") was the second most popular subject.
3) About half-way through the first class (I teach two sections), I started thinking, "Either these folks have done (or thought about doing) some awful things, or they've had people doing them wrong." I also decided that I didn't want to know which it was.
4) I'll totally do it again.

Re-reading Cranford

"'It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor,' said Miss Matty softly, as we settled ourselves in the counting-house. 'I only hope it is not improper; so many pleasant things are!'" Cranford, Chapter 4.

We have reached our penultimate book in my Women's Studies Seminar, Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. I haven't read it since I was in grad school, although I did watch the BBC series a few years back. I remembered really enjoying it, but it's been lovely dropping back into it again. I think it's making me laugh more than in my previous reads, too. I hope the students like it, too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"The Paris Mouse"

Until I came across the poem below on the Poem of the Day podcast, I had no idea that the legendary feminist literary scholar Sandra Gilbert was also a poet. I really like this little poem, which manages to be strikingly vivid and kind of gross and kind of cute and ultimately profound in just thirty-three lines.

Audio here, which includes a little introduction to the poem by Gilbert herself.

"The Paris Mouse"
Sandra Gilbert

hunched over the greasy
burner on the stove
was noir, as in

film noir, as in
as in le nuit

not blanche but
noir, the dream you can’t
wake up from, meaning she

was a mouse fatale,
licking the old oil
glued to the old

cooktop, feasting
in her tiny hunched-up
sewer life

on fats & proteins for her
bébés all atremble in their
rotting poubel nest,

so when I screamed my piercing
Anglo-Imperial scream of
horror & betrayal—

not my stove, not my traces of
pot au feu
she leaped, balletic, over

the sink, the fridge, the lave-vaiselle,
& back to the cave & the trash she
scuttled, grim as a witch

in La Fontaine
who has to learn
the lesson we

all must learn:
Reality is always sterner
than pleasures of the nighttime burner.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"This is Just to Say"

I am pretty darn excited to teach a couple of William Carlos Williams poems in ENGL 204 on Friday--even more excited than usual. First, we'll discuss the venerable wheelbarrow poem, but I'm really excited about when we get to "This is Just to Say." After some discussion, I'm going to play this segment from This American Life, which talks about the poem and then includes a bunch of terrific riffs on it. Then we're going to write our own "This is Just to Say" poems. I even found a cool template on the NCTE website.

Yeah, it's not an incredibly innovative plan, but I can't help but look forward to it. Should be fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"There will be time, there will be time"

[Quoting a bit of Eliot in the title to this post because I couldn't think of anything better. Plus, I taught "Prufrock" yesterday in my ENGL 204 classes.]

[Also--really boring post alert.]

I can't believe it took me so long to notice, but it wasn't until about 11:00 this morning that I realized I wasn't wearing my watch. Once I realized it, though, I went a bit batty over it. Did I lose it and not hear it drop? Did I just forget to put it on that morning? I never do that. So I started checking all around my office--in the file cabinet drawers I'd been wrestling with earlier, in my bag, in stacks of folders. I walked up and down the hallways of the building. Nothing.

Then I had a meeting to go to at 12:00, but as I walked over to the meeting, I thought, "Well, maybe I have time to check my car to see if I lost it in there." And to check and see if I had time, I checked my wrist (which of course, had no watch on it), something I had already done about a dozen times since I noticed I wasn't wearing the darn thing. Fortunately, I had my ipod with me and it told me that I did have time to check the car. And no, the watch wasn't there. And yes, after I checked my car, I again checked my wrist to see if I was going to be late to the meeting. Seriously.

As I sat through the meeting, I felt like I was partially naked with my bare wrist. I even thought (because this is how paranoid I am...maybe those Prufrock connections aren't so off), "I hope no one notices that I am not wearing a watch." Because apparently I think a watch is an essential symbol of responsible professionalism and I wouldn't want anyone to think I was a renegade non-watch wearer. (Yeah, I do realize that plenty of people don't wear them--that they use their phones, etc., but I could never do that. Too much a creature of habit.)

The good news: the watch was at home. I just forgot to put it on. Weird.

[Yeah, really boring post. Sorry.]

Monday, March 19, 2012

Best Fringe video ever?

The best much fun!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Okay, I get it now...

Just finished The Hunger Games. If you haven't read it, believe the hype. I am trying to decide how long I can go without buying the second one. I have a feeling that diving into it could get in the way of finishing that intimidating list of things due by April 1.

But I will talk some folks into seeing the movie with me.

Ten years old today...

...and looking good!


The headline reads: "Dr. Horrible Sequel is Coming Sooner Than You Think."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hitting the pause button

I took today off and actually enjoyed a lazy Spring Break day. I didn't set an alarm and slept in a bit, started reading The Hunger Games (finally!), and watched a couple of movies. Not bad at all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Relay For Life

Maybe some wealthy reader will stop by this blog and make a donation to my Relay For Life team...

It could happen.

Here's the link to my page: Any donation will help.

"Selected and Recent New Errors"

"Selected and Recent New Errors"
by Dean Young

My books are full of mistakes
but not the ones Tony’s always pointing out
as if correct spelling is what could stop the conveyor belt
the new kid caught his arm in.
Three weeks on the job and he’s already six hundred
legal pages, lawyers haggling in an office
with an ignored view of the river
pretending to be asleep, pretending
to have insight into its muddy self.
You think that’s a fucked-up, drawn-out metaphor,
try this: if you feel you’re writhing like a worm
in a bottle of tequila, you don’t know
it’s the quickness of its death that reveals
the quality of the product, its proof.
I don’t know what I’m talking about either.
Do you think the dictionary ever says to itself
I’ve got these words that mean completely
different things inside myself
and it’s tearing me apart?
My errors are even bigger than that.
You start taking down the walls of your house,
sooner or later it’ll collapse
but not before you can walk around
with your eyes closed, rolled backwards
and staring straight into the amygdala’s meatlocker
and your own damn self hanging there.
Do that for awhile and it’s easier to delight   
in snow that lasts about twenty minutes
longer than a life held together
by the twisted silver baling wire
of deception and stealth.
But I ain’t confessing nothing.
On mornings when I hope you forget my name,
I walk through the high wet weeds
that don’t have names either.
I do not remember the word dew.
I do not remember what I told you
with your ear in my teeth.
Further and further into the weeds.
We have absolutely no proof
god isn’t an insect
rubbing her hind legs together to sing.
Or boring into us like a yellow jacket
into a fallen, overripe pear.
Or an assassin bug squatting over us,
shoving a proboscis right through
our breast plate then sipping.
How wonderful our poisons don’t kill her.

via the Poetry Foundation, which also has audio of the poem.

How to cite a tweet: MLA style

In case you were wondering, official guidelines here. More on this over on insidehighered.

Good for MLA for coming up with a quick, clear, solution. This must mean they think twitter is here to stay and that it warrants its own special word ("Tweet") at the end of the citation (not "Web," which is what I would have expected). I guess that's because tweets aren't entirely web-based, going to phones, etc. Very interesting stuff for an MLA enthusiast like me.


I've just breathed a deep sigh of satisfaction, having more or less completed my revisions enough to pass the essay onto my trusted friend/favorite reader (Vogel) for some feedback. Now for some chair dancin'/celebrating.

Now to think about that book review, due on April 1. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Death of Mary Wilkins Freeman

A poignant blog post over at The American Literary Blog on Mary Wilkins Freeman, who died on this day back in 1930. I've taught quite a bit of Freeman in my classes this semester and find her work richly rewarding. Her characters (like Louisa Ellis and Old Woman Magoun, just to name a couple) stick with a reader.

(Sorry for a pretty in-eloquent post that does little to convey my admiration for this writer! Blame "revision brain," as a I continue to slog through that article I mentioned yesterday.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Break...

And I am living it here in my office on campus, revising revising revising... Trying to make a (sort of self-imposed) March 19 deadline for a "revise and resubmit." After working a couple of hours at Panera this morning, I had originally intended to work from home for the rest of the afternoon. Change of plans when I realized that the file version of most recent incarnation of the essay (the print out of which I had spent all morning making changes to) was on my computer at school. So here I am. I actually think it's working better this way. I think I might have been a bit (more) distracted at home.

With that said, back to work I go.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Happy birthday, Buffy!

Fifteen years ago today, Buffy premiered. I am marking the occasion by watching Season 4 while working on a book review.

A nice appreciation post here. And, like the writer, I too laugh every time I think about "Randy Giles."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy International Women's Day

Got this from one of my favorite former (male) professors. He had it posted on his Facebook wall.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

WV Undergraduate Literary Symposium

Last weekend, my colleague Tim and I took eight of our students to the West Virginia Undergraduate Literary Symposium to present their work. They did us proud!