I just got a poem of mine published at a site called The New Verse News.
The poem, called Incognito: Front Lines, was written for a friend of mine who was in the Middle East as a military police officer and the poem was inspired by the publication of some written memories of soldiers in The New Yorker magazine. Thousands of soldiers are taking part in a large project to document the experience of the war in Iraq through writing and the magazine published bits and pieces of some of that writing. It was very powerful and shocking, and emotional unnerving.
I wrote my poem this summer and then used the e-Anthology to get feedback from the National Writing Project teachers to revise it, and so I thank everyone who helped me along the way.
You can read a copy of my poem or listen to it, too. Incognito
Peace (for real),
While I was in Nashville, wandering around the aquarium-like Gaylord Opryland, I picked up a flier for this show, which is called The Teacher: A New Musical by Ken Stonecipher. Apparently, Ken, who is a teacher, wrote a full-length musical around the act of teaching (!). I tried to find a web presence for the musical (which Ken says will soon be moving on to Broadway) but I came up empty.
In the flier, this is how Ken describes it:
“For those who love teaching, it is the most exciting career of all. Where else does one get to play the role of educator, creator, counselor, baby-sitter and prison guard all in one day? In what other profession does one have to balance the behavior of 165 hormone-raging adolescents with their need for quality education?”
Well said …
I guess Ken also presents pieces of his musical as a professional development tool. The flier calls the sessions “… a brutal yet honest look at the evolution of teaching … ” Now that would be different, wouldn’t it?
I love the idea of intersecting music, arts, writing and teaching all in one — although I can’t comment on the quality of his writing (the flier was a bit sketchy) or the production values (I didn’t see any of it).
While I was in Nashville for the National Writing Project Annual Meeting, I decided I would create an audio postcard for some of our writing project fellows back home in Western Massachusetts. These audio files are also being linked to our WMWP Online Newsletter for others to listen to.
Here are the two audio postcards:
- Day One: some workshop presentations, interviews and reflections Day One
- Day Two: general assembly of NWP, interviews and reflections Day Two
Here I am with a Jason, a good friend and colleague from Colorado, who is part our Youth Radio Project.
I continue with my expedition into the world of audiobooks with a second chapter in my story called Lost Songs of Paradise: Tales from Mac’s Music Shack.
Listen to the second installment called The Saxophonist’s Tale Sax
You can also read along and see some video introductions to the story at the main Story Page. And Bella will read once again (good dog).
As I have been listening to some audiobooks with my children lately, I have been wondering how it would be to create an audiobook of my own via podcasting. So, as with other ventures on this Weblog site, I figured I might as well try it.
So here goes: This is the first installment of my book called Lost Songs of Paradise: Tales from Mac’s Music Shack. The story revolves around music (a common theme of my writing) and uses classic English Literature as the organizing structure behind the stories. I’ll post a reflection on the experience of creating this audiobook at another time.
Meanwhile, my dog Bella will serve as the virtual narrator of this book. (woof)
Listen to the Introductory chapter of Lost Songs of Paradise or you can read along with my audio by using the Story file I have started here. Introduction
As I go through this project, I am keeping in the back of my mind that this is something I want my sixth grade writers to experience. Thus, it is more than personal here, although self-publishing this way is certainly a motivation for me, too.
My students have just completed a big art project around the theme of Celebrating Peace and their work is now hanging all around the hallways of my school. We also have them writing about why peace should be important to young people and to explain the symbolism of their art. It is very interesting to see sixth-graders tussle with the idea of a peaceful world in a time of war.
I thought I would capture some of that work through video and so I am sharing that video with parents at another Weblog site but I figured it would be nice to share it here, too.
Peace (in every way possible),
I took part in a skypecast this week with Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim on the Teachers Teaching Teachers network (which is a wonderful and insightful weekly program) and they just put the link up on their site. We talked about podcasting and the Youth Radio project that I am helping to lead with upper elementary students from my own school in Massachusetts and other schools across the country.
Take a listen to the podcast Teachers Teaching Teachers
This is the second installment of a poem for my OnPoEvMo Poetry Project.
There’s a poem buried in my backyard:
something left behind by someone else
who used to live here –
someone whose coffee cups are now just broken shards forced to the Earth’s surface
every spring by the frost heaves,
along with discarded bones from some old dog or wayward cat
or maybe a perfectly good person whose time just ran out.
I wouldn’t exactly call it treasure – these ceramic, organic tokens from the past –
except for the poem:
the poem that remains buried there in the fertile soil
– I can hear its Siren call late at night when my mind races
and my pen only writes in the ink of invisibility and forgetfulness –
I have the map but the shovel?
The shovel is nowhere to be found.
Listen to me read the poem Buried
(This is the first installment of my One Poem Every Month for One Year project)
Talking Billy Collins Blues
I called on Billy Collins last night
And he asked me outright if I was disturbed
To which I replied,
Yes, slightly, sorry for the intrusion
but how do you write a poem every month for a year
And where do I look for lost words — the ones I have misplaced with time?
Billy slipped me a piece of paper when we were done talking
leaving me alone with nothing much but that paper.
I could just make out some red ink scribbles and a few doodles
when I held that thin skin of a tree up to the light
and let the paper become a translucent buffer between me
and the muse.
I held Billy Collins in my hand for hours,
nursing him like the last drink of the night when daylight is looming,
afraid to even look
because if it did hold the key then my search would be over
and why write poems after that?
So I crumpled Billy up and tossed him into the street bin
(apologizing profusely for being so impolite)
and I chased my own shadow all the way back home
in the darkness of memories.
And that’s when I really began to write.
Listen to me read my poem Talking Billy Collins Blues
I was reading through a profile of playwright Suzan-Lori Parks in The New Yorker (Oct. 30 2006) last week, intrigued by the wit and intelligence and liveliness of her as a writer and observer of the human condition. (Parks once went to college in my part of Western Massachusetts, so I seem drawn to her name when she wins awards or takes on new projects).
At one point, she decided she would write one play every single day for a year.
“Sometimes, I would write in the security line at the airport, you know? …. A lot of them were written in hotels … I didn’t limit the time. I sat down and did it and then kind of went on with the day.” — Parks.
Now Parks is collaborating with some other folks to produce her plays on one day in different venues in the country. Wow!
It reminded me of another project I heard about, called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in which participants are invited to write an entire novel from start to finish during the month of November. I can’t possibly take that on right now but next year … I hope so.
BUT — what if I tried to write One Poem Every Month for One Year? (And call it OnPoEvMo? I kind of like that).
So that is what I am going to try to do, using this blog as my publishing platform for this very personal project. And it may be more than one poem … who knows? Plus, I intend to podcast my reading of the poems, and maybe a video here and there. I am going to try to dig at my life through poetry — as a teacher, as a parent, as a writer, as a musician — whatever the inspiration.
Now, let’s get started.