Tuesday, January 22, 2008

After School On Ordinary Days (100x2)

After School on Ordinary Days

Once I’m in the door, I put down my bookbag,
change into jeans and a t-shirt, and walk up to the kiosk
on the corner to buy a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser,
not so much for the news, but because every day,
five weeks late, they publish on the second page
of the Island Life section, the New York Times
Crossword Puzzle. I settle into my chair, skim the news,
then fold back the page, take out my Pilot Razor-Point,
and set to work, filling in the ones I know, figuring out
the ones I don’t, until the last letter falls into place,
and I’m ready to start what’s left of my day.

Process Reflection: I was talking with my sophomore students today, on the first day of class, about reading as a writer and writing as a reader. We began by with reading as writers by looking at a poem by Maria Gillan called “After School on Ordinary Days,” trying to read the poem with some attention to writerly choices. One set observations had to do with the way that the poet elaborates on the china closet and what’s in it, and how that move toward specificity conveys useful information to us as readers. Another had to do with the way that the poet resolves the poem by appending a kind of summary tag, a caption, commenting on the transformative power of memory. Which led us briefly into a discussion on the sources of poetic inspiration, of which we identified at least four: observation, memory, imagination, and emotion. We spent a little time unpacking Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful emotion… recollected in tranquility.” The homework assignment, writing as readers, was to write a poem (or perhaps a short prose narrative) introducing ourselves to one another by sharing something along the lines of “After School on Ordinary Days," and borrowing whatever writerly moves from the original that seem useful. This one's mine, and, coming in at 113 words, counts as number two in the 100-Word-a-Day sweepstakes.

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