Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Teaching and Poetry -- Two loves.

Sunday, August 26- I was finishing my syllabus. That’s about all I remember. I was creating my syllabus and lesson plan, and rehearsing the lesson a little bit.

Monday, August 27- I was up early, getting ready to go for the day. I was going to present the syllabus on computer, as I’d been lead to believe just about all the classrooms on campus had computers and projection screen, DVD players, etc. Well, just about all the classrooms do…just not mine. My class, for whatever reason, is in the education building and ODU seems to give the education department the short end of the stick. It’s such a strange thing for a university (A PLACE OF EDUCATION) to do to future educators. On the other hand, it makes sense because the alums who become teachers rarely end up with big bucks to endow to the university.

Well, good thing I (a) didn’t include a lot of multi-media stuff in the syllabus, (b) had a backup plan for class that day and (c) the classroom had a piece of chalk in it for me to use. I used it down to the nub, in fact. CHALK! I gave away all my chalk in the Bronx. I had a celebratory ceremony. NO MORE CHALK! But here it is, back in my life, smudging on my clothes and drying out the skin on my fingers. Yep, nothing says classy like a chalk smudge on your rear. Not that that’s ever happened to me.

Class went well. I was a little nervous, but I don’t think the students could tell. They’re SO TALL! And quiet. It was a little tough to get them to talk, but I made them play two truths and a lie. One interesting thing I learned: I have a girl and a guy who won beauty pageants. Hee. It’s so nice not to deal with hostility or violence. The 50 minutes pass so fast, and the hardest part is drawing out my students. The fact that it’s their first class of the day doesn’t help. What does help is that they really seem to want to learn what I have to teach. They want to be better writers, if only to snag better grades. Hey, as motivation goes, it’s a good starting place.

Tuesday, August 28, I was psyched! It was my first poetry class. HOORAY! That morning I had office hours, when I got some reading done. Then I spent some time doing little chores around the house. After than, I had copies made of my syllabus and tried to get my laptop signed on to the campus wireless internet. The tech experts couldn’t do it and said I should come back when the wireless guy is there. Oookaaay. Before I knew it, it was time for my poetry class.

The teacher, Tim Seibles, is awesome. (I got this photo from the ODU web site. I didn't snap it during class or anything.)His voice is so velvety, sliding, rising, rolling and unrolling as he reads us poem after poem. We all introduced ourselves. Then the professor read us a poem a few times while we listened, then discussed it. Then he read us another one, and we had to write it down the way we thought it would look on the page. We discussed the poem, spending about ten minutes discussing one word (“Achingly.” I know! Analyzing poetry isn’t most people’s cup of tea, but I love it.) Then we did a poetry mimic, creating a new version of the poem (action, question, description) and sharing it. Here’s the original (though this probably isn’t the author’s original format) and what I wrote (it’s not finished):

Exercise in the Cemetery by Jane Gentry

At dusk I walk up and down

among the rows of the dead.

What do the thoughts I think

have to do with another living being?

In the eastern sky –

blue-green as a bird’s egg –

a cloud with a neck like a goose

swims, achingly, toward the zenith.

"Losing Him" [Note: I had to remove this poem because I found out lit mags won't publish work that's been published on a blog. Oops.]

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