Slice of Life: Are You Listening, Mother Nature?

Every Tuesday, the crew at Two Writing Teachers invites educators and others to write about the small moments of the day. It’s called Slice of Life. You write, too.

grass in snow in april

We shoveled the driveway three times yesterday. That’s a good indication for how much snow fell during an April day when, really, it should have been all sun and flowers. Right? April? Look at that poor tuft of grass from our backyard. It looks confused and out of place. Instead of sun, we had snow, totaling about five to six inches, and a whole day off from school.

The boys, of course, were happy to have an expected long weekend (and we streamed the Star Wars movie, so it wasn’t all bad).

But I see now that our last day of the school year is set on a Friday. If we have any more of these Spring Snow Days, it pushes the final day to the Monday, and that impacts a wobbly balance we chanced on this year when booking an early vacation week up in Maine in late June (normally we go later in the summer but with the oldest son going off to college for the first time in August, we moved our vacation back and then took advantage of the pre-summer-vacation rates. Seemed like a good idea at the time.)

So, now, more snow, please. Are you listening, Mother Nature? It’s me, Kevin.

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

Woody Guthrie Lives Inside of Me

memecat stays positive

From time to time, I pull out my guitar and record a “corner concert” in my house. Nothing fancy. Just me and a song. Given all the noise about politics, to which I am very much attuned, I pulled out this song that I wrote, Woody Guthrie Lives Inside of Me.

While the politicians sleep
We’ll occupy the streets
Woody Guthrie lives inside of me

Thanks for watching and listening and being engaged in this crazy political season.

That man

Peace (in the songs),
Kevin

I hear; I listen; We dance

I was reading a book about music and came upon the word, Entrainment. I was intrigued.

Entrainment in the biomusicological sense refers to the synchronization of organisms (only humans as a whole, with some particular instances of a particular animal) to an external perceived rhythm, such as human music and dance such as foot tapping — from Wikipedia

That got me thinking of a poem, as I listened to some jazz while I was writing. (You can view the poem here, too, if this image doesn’t work right)

Dayfour poem

And thanks to a Snow Day (ah!), I was able to do a podcast of the poem:

Peace (inside the spaces between the notes),
Kevin

Graphic Novel Review: The Nameless City

The city is named over and over, and no conqueror can name it for long.

The Nameless City is, as noted, a place without a name. Or rather, a place with many names, designated by those who have invaded it over time and who have called it what they wanted to call it because they held the power. But those who live in the Nameless City — the ones who wait out the invasions and the subsequent transitions of power over time — know better and call their city Nameless.

Told beautifully, and with great depth, The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (and art by Jordie Bellaire) is a fascinating story of what seems to be city of the past, somewhere in Asia, in which politics and ambition, and intrigue, play out even as the story focuses on a young boy named Kaidu (whose father is part of the invading force now governing the city and fearing for the next invasion) and Rat, a young girl of the streets of the Nameless City.

What makes the Nameless City so ripe for invasion is its location and a strange history of its original founders, who dug tunnels in the ground and carved out the mountainsides, and whose language is a mystery to those who live in the city (setting the stage for a future story, no doubt).

The book has it all: humor, adventure, friendship, danger, courage, and flow. This story flows naturally, moving the narrative along in ways that only graphic novels can, particularly when we see the city through the eyes of Rat, who prowls along the roofs of the city buildings, leaping like a superhero from building to building, and over rivers. The use of art to show us up high, and then down low, and the action of the leap … that is an experience of graphic storytelling. Rat’s a headstrong, powerful girl, and she teaches Kaidu a few things about life.

I’ll be honest, too. As I read this first installment of The Nameless City, the place that came to my mind was Afghanistan, for some reason. Perhaps it was the narrative of subsequent invading forces and the native population finding ways to live and survive through each turn of events by becoming invisible and patient, until some start advocating violent rebellion. The Nameless City could be anywhere, or nowhere, but the ideas of who owns the heart and soul a place is at the center of Hicks’ graphic story, and that idea remains an important one throughout time, even beyond the graphic novel.

Even today, on the world stage.

I’ll be curious to see where Hicks and Bellaire take the story of Kaidu and Rat in the future, as this is the first of a trilogy from First-Second publishing. It’s well worth your time, and the book is appropriate for the upper elementary and middle school classrooms.

Peace (in the flow),
Kevin

Swoon: Hiding a Poem in Plain Sight

Daythree poem

This is the visual of a love poem that I wrote. If you look hard, turn your head and put the pieces together, you may be able to see what I was after in the poem itself. Maybe not. But I think I will keep this poem, the versions with the stanzas of love, hidden. Some things, even poems in public spaces, we keep to ourselves. Such is love …

Peace (when we imagine the moon),
Kevin

April Poems: The First Morning of the First Day

26100491941_538c9af2ed_zI just came out of Slice of Life — writing about small moments every day in March — and am going to try to write a poem a day throughout April. No promises to myself, or to anyone else, but we’ll see how it goes. The first poem … is about writing the first poem …

Poem April 1

Peace (in the stanzas),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Mosaic Project — Imagine and Create

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge for March, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We are writing each day about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

School Mosaic

I was not part of this project. Our art teacher and a visiting artist worked with students in our school to create this amazing mosaic project on the theme of “create” and “imagine” and it hangs right outside my classroom right now. I am one lucky teacher.

Every time I wander by, I see stories emerging from the tiles of this mosaic. Students in the upper grades worked during a week on this, designing the images and laying out the tiles. The closer you get, the more detailed it becomes. But even from a distance, there is creativity in bloom.

School Mosaic

This is what school is about. Where else would most of these kids have a chance to do a full mosaic art project like this? And what a gift to the school for years to come. Did I mention it is right outside my classroom?

<grin>

Peace (in the imagination of creativity),
Kevin

Immersed in the Music: Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan and You

 

This is a pretty amazing use of video technology by the team that continues to share out the late Jeff Buckley’s music. They have used Buckley’s cover of a Dylan song (Just Like a Woman), and made an interactive watching/listening experience for the viewer/listener — transforming the song and interpretation by Buckley into something magical. Not to mention with sexdecillion combinations (according to the producers .. I didn’t count).

They say:

All together there are over 16,000 different music combinations that can be created. The video contains 73 different animated cells that can be clicked or tapped to alter the story, adding up to a staggering number of possible visual and story combinations: approximately 1 sexdecillion. That’s a 1 followed by 51 zeros.

Throughout the song, you can click on small images which change the ‘story’ of the song, as Buckley’s amazing voice and single guitar guide you through, and then a few minutes in, they start sprinkling remix options, where choosing various paths add new layers to the track you are listening to at that moment. Strings get added or removed. A guitar run comes into play. Keyboards move up in the mix.

Wow.

I found myself deep inside Buckley’s voice here. I worried that the immersion in the video might distract me from the song and the singing. Maybe it is because I already know the song. Maybe it is because I already know Buckley’s voice. But the combination of listening and exploring combined for me into a satisfying experience all around.

Play/Listen/Remix/Enjoy

And now the question that comes to my mind? How did they do it? I want to see a “behind the scenes” video of how this all came to be created? I want to learn about the process and wonder about how one might even venture forward this way? I wonder how this might be viewed and taught as ‘writing’ in the digital age.

Peace (in the Muse),
Kevin