Library of Congress Poetry: Radio Signals

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Imagine the noise
if you stood
inside this antenna
and opened your ears
to the world.

Close your eyes
and listen, if you can,
and be patient, as your mind
puts frequencies into
patterns.

Somewhere, out there,
in some far-off place,
someone else is listening, too,
and all you need to do is

tune in.

Process Note: What I noticed first with this image is the wide open space behind the man and his radio device. Also, the large box antenna pulls in radio signals. I tried to move the poem beyond the man and his radio apparatus … to more of the idea of all of us, slowing down and listening to the world.

Peace (in all frequencies),
Kevin

 

Continued Reverberations of Online Connections


flickr photo shared by priyaswtc under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Three posts recently had me thinking again about the reverberations of online networks or communities or whatever term it is you wish to use to indicate projects that never quite end.

First, there was this tweet from my Making Learning Connected MOOC friend, Allie:

My answer to Allie was: Truthfully, I don’t know.

It may be that the CLMOOC has run its official course and that some variations of it may continue into the summer. I’ve been a facilitator in the past, and enjoyed it immensely, but I am not in charge of the official decision of whether another six week CLMOOC will happen this summer. I don’t think National Writing Project, which has hosted CLMOOC, envisioned supporting CLMOOC forever, and I know a focus right now by NWP is on Educator Innovator projects such as Letters to the President.

So, I don’t know.

I think I can safely say this. The #CLMOOC Twitter hashtag isn’t going anywhere, and until Google pulls the plug on Google Plus Communities, there is still a home there, too, and people are still sharing links, resources, ideas and a weekly #SilentSunday image share. And we have had some “pop up” Make Cycles this spring, thanks to Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott and others. I know I am planning to use the CLMOOC Make Cycles for a graduate class I am teaching through the University of Massachusetts and our Western Mass Writing Project this summer.

Second, I saw a blog post by Alan Levine, reflecting on the Western version of DS106 earlier this year, which he explains better than I can, but I want to note in that in his reflection he reacts to a comment about a sense of “fading” in DS106. I suspect that any online adventure has its time of high activity that slows down after time, even as it continues to persist in some fashion.

DS106 is an intriguing example because some university classes use it as a framework of classwork, connecting the physical classroom to online exploration. At times, there are “headless” DS106 courses that are not connected to a university — with only nominal direction. Come and go, as you please. Other times, a theme starts and ends, and echoes in the Daily Create. People keep making stuff. Cool stuff. Every day.

Alan writes:

I was talking to someone who’s been around the DS106 corral and it was this person’s contention that DS106 had “faded” suggesting in so many words it was past the top of a curve, and maybe it was missing a “charismatic leader”. Many people who got crazy bit with ds106 in 2011, 2012 are not much less or non-active. That’s not a problem, that’s a natural curve of evolution.

And DS106 does persist and it continues encourage continuous creativity, even if you never dipped a toe into any of its online course mutations. Just look at the DS106 Daily Create. It rolls on and on. People don’t just come and go; People come and go long after their first connection to DS106 ever took place.

And then the third post that caught my attention was by Dave Cormier, who has spearheaded Rhizomatic Learning communities since 2014, wrote a fascinating post that references an article he wrote two years ago, in which he responds to a question his young son asks as he is watching Rhizo14 unfold. (The question: Are you in charge? The answer: Not really.)

Dave begins:

… we are potentially radically redefining what it means to be an educator. We are very much at the beginning stages of our learning how to create the space required for community to develop and grow in an open course. These field notes speak to the my own journey in the design of ‘Rhizomatic Learning – the community is the curriculum’. They are, in effect, a journey towards planned obsolescence.

Interestingly, the Rhizomatic Learning connections seem sort of shackled by the hashtag. We began with #rhizo14 and then #rhizo15 and now #rhizo16, but adding a number hampers the ability of the community to last beyond the year, it seems to me. This sort of calls attention to the importance of early course design — how to design for something to never end in social media circles? (This is not a critique of Dave or any of us in Rhizo, by the way, but merely an interesting observation of how a time element stamp can lead to unexpected narrowing of community reverberations.)

How do these three strands/posts come together for me?

Well, I’m intrigued by Dave’s notion — made years ago but seemingly more and more relevant — about “planned obsolescence” of the architect of online experiences. Dave’s notion of “the community is the curriculum” is intriguing, as is Alan’s notion of the “natural curve of evolution” of an online experience.

We may not yet be there. Dave is launching a third iteration of Rhizo under the banner of Learning Resilience.  Maybe we still need someone behind the wheel. While the Rhizo community remains active and vibrant, I think we were waiting for Dave to kick off something for 2016. (I know I was but I didn’t realize it until I was writing this post.) I wonder if the person who wondered about DS106 “fading” was waiting, too, for someone like Alan to step up and lead the way. Did Allie think I was in charge of CLMOOC?

How do we encourage folks to take over and be the learning itself? Dave and Alan have certainly encouraged that every step of the way. Yet we still gravitate towards someone to get us started. (Maybe that’s not a bad thing. We all need a spark.) How does that decentralizing of learning translate into our classrooms? That’s the question of the longer journey many teachers are on in the Connected World, I suspect. I know I am. Maybe you are, too.

If someone comes looking for CLMOOC activities and exploration, perhaps the best answer is to encourage them to create and share Pop Up Make Cycles and invite others to join in. Do we need someone in charge to tell us that CLMOOC is taking place or not? Probably not.

We can make learning happen just by making it happen. The fact that Allie had a “serious remix moment” that reminded her of CLMOOC is incredibly exciting. I wonder what that moment was? Can I join in? Don’t you wonder, too?

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: Seventh Inning Stretch

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

Well, the game got called
on account of

the rain

and I’m still up next to bat,
so I’m impatient for

the pitch

So I don’t mind the mud
nor the empty seats nor

the rain

All I care about is
how far I’m gonna smack

that pitch

and win the game!

Process Note: There are lots of pretty cool baseball shots in the archives, but mostly of team shots or close-up head-shots. This one caught my attention. I was thinking of these men, waiting around. I don’t see rain but it made sense to have them stuck in a rain delay, seventh inning. That fellow leaning against the pole is thinking of playing baseball. I am sure of it. I wove in some inadvertent rhyme and decided to pull out the last line of each stanza as a way to show the rain and the pitch as important elements. Funny how you can do that with poetry.

Peace (in outfield),
Kevin

Amid the Grids; Among these Gestures

Lots of people this week have taken up the call by graphic artist Nick Sousanis to create “Grids and Gestures” — a comic-creating visual activity in which you move beyond a literal interpretation of your day or moment or some period of time. Instead, you let your mind wander, drawing (without words, if possible) a visual representation (that’s the gesture) of the time period (that’s the grid).

Gridgestures4

I’ve done this once before with Nick, but doing a series of them over a few days has been interesting. Sort of like our Slice of Life writing activities, but with lines and circles and smudges instead of stories and vignettes. How would you “write” your day if you could not write, but only draw? How do you represent moments of joy? Frustration? Confusion? Boredom? Love? What does those ideas look like when you sketching at the edge of it all?

Gridgestures5

My five Grids and Gestures used the same six-panel grid, and I used the Paper app for my drawing. So each has a similar feel to them (and exposes my limited artistic abilities). I tried to explored different topics, and used the title on each to indicate what I was thinking about.

It does occur to me that while I can “read” the gestures, others outside of my head (that would be you, dear reader) might wonder, what the heck is that? I wonder if how you read my grids is different than how I wrote my grids? Maybe that is the case with writing, too, at times.

Gridgestures3

There was a community question in the Twitter hashtag about whether these Grids and Gestures are really comics, or something that comes before the comics. In other words, are they incomplete ideas, only part of the brainstorming process?

Nick suggests that this method of creating art with gestures is where much of his time is spent before moving into a larger project, and that it is an effective way to gather ideas and explore the flow of connected concepts. I suggested that the grids are comics in their own way, moving ideas through inferential design and using art to represent abstract ideas.

Maybe it doesn’t matter anyway. Art is what you make of it.

Gridgestures2

If you are interested, explore the Twitter hashtag of #GridsGestures (actually, check out the link to photos only in the Twitter hashtag stream — that’s pretty cool) or check out Nick’s website and some of his amazing work.

Make your own. Share them out. Be creative. Every day.

Gridsgestures1

Peace (beyond the grids),
Kevin

 

Library of Congress Poetry: A Pair of Patient Pants

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I’m still here:
a pair of pants left behind
while y’all went swimmin’

I’m hangin’ on this here hook,
listenin’ for the splashin’
of the bodies in the brook

Ain’t I surprised
no one took me
with them shoes and socks and shirts
when you weren’t lookin’?

No more surprised
than your mammy no doubt was
when you arrived home,
nearly naked with no memories
of where yer pants could have gone

and me, just here waitin’ —
just watchin’ through the days
for someone to take notice:
I’m a pair of patient pants.

Process Note: I saw this image of clothes on a hook and laughed, imagining a group of kids gone swimming, leaving their clothes behind.

Peace (it’s patient),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: Black Knight, Preaching

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

The game is bigger
than us,
here on the grass
with me pretending to be black
and you, choosing white,

and somewhere in the distance
we can hear the dream
unfolding as thousands of people

listen intently to his voice,
echoing out into decades to come,
not even sure of the moment they are in

and you call out “check” as if to win
as I defend my position
with a black knight, preaching.

Process Note: There was something about this scene, of two young men playing a game of chess during the 1963 March on Washington that struck me as an intriguing. Of course, there is all sorts of symbolism here — the game, the colors of the pieces, etc. But it was the simple moment of two people engaged in an intellectual pursuit that caught my eye. I wanted to frame the poem beyond race, but I couldn’t.

Peace (in pieces),
Kevin

 

Library of Congress Poetry: The Great Warrior Sees

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

The Great Warrior
knows better
than to trust the One who seems
smaller than
the eye

The Great Warrior
sees beyond
the scale of days behind him,
falling into
days ahead

The Great Warrior
understands this,
fears this, too –this coming change
pushing into
his World

The Great Warrior
contemplates You –
consumes You in his mind —
swallows you
whole.

Blinks.

Process Note: This is an image of the eye of the American Indian leader, Geronimo, with the reflection of the photographer in Geronimo’s pupil. It’s an odd, evocative image, with deep (sad) symbolism, right? I had this idea of the shift of the world underway as the photo is being snapped. Even as the American tribes knew terrible change was afoot, they could do little to stop it.

Peace (to all),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: This Won’t Hurt a Bit

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of theLibrary of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

This will only take a moment
so sit quiet
and still
and let me rummage
through your head

This map of You
is defined not by
longitude and latitude,
nor by crude compass
but by the crevasses
of your cranium

Who you are becomes
what you may be so that
where you are going is
when things take shape although
why this is so,

I don’t rightly know.

Thanks for letting me look
at what you cannot see
yourself, but can only feel with
fingertips as you brush your hair
each morning.

The real You is hidden
from view, beyond the contours
of your face, your eyes,
your public mirror.

Close your eyes;
This will only take
a moment.

Process Note: The Library of Congress has this whole collection on Flickr of Mystery Photos (odd images) and it challenges visitors to make guesses. This one is a classic. The woman seems so happy! But look at that contraption being lowered on her head! Don’t worry. She is not getting electrocuted. It is a phrenology machine, apparently, and her life is about to be analyzed through the bumps on her scalp. Go figure.

Peace (it’s rather bumpy),
Kevin

Library of Congress Poetry: The Notes In the Air

(I’m exploring poetry through images by tapping into the extensive collection of the Library of Congress on Flickr. There are some amazing images shared with the public and more coming every month or two, it seems. What can inspire you? Be sure to cite where you got the image from. Use Alan Levine’s Flickr Attribution tool and your life is a breeze.)


flickr photo shared by The Library of Congress with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons)

I glance your hand
on the edge
of my peripheral vision

A palm open with fingers outstretched,
as if to collect the gift of
the notes of my solo

But this muted melody is mine
and mine alone;
I’m not sharing

this song with you tonight.

Process Note: This image in the Jazz Collection struck me for the two things nearly outside of the frame. The hand coming in from the top left and the face of Cab Calloway in the lower edge. I ended up ignoring Calloway, and yet, look at this eyes watching Jonah Jones playing his trumpet. I was more intrigued by the hand. It is outstretched in joy? I suspect it must be one of those “Oh Glory, Give Us More” moments of a listener (white?) and yet I wanted Jones to remain inside his trumpet, ignoring the world. The world can wait. The notes are still in the air. They are his.

Peace (in jazz),
Kevin

 

 

Slice of Life: Art on a Large Scale

Polar Vortex Quidditch

On Thursday, we hold our annual (17th annual, apparently) Quidditch Tournament. The other day, all four sixth grade classes were hard at work on posters. There were kids and posters and paints everywhere in the cafeteria. It was pretty cool to see the floor turned into a colorful art gallery. We don’t do enough of those kind of large-scale art endeavors like we should. The banner posters (our team name is Polar Vortex) will hang up on the gym walls on behalf of each of the four teams that will play all day long before crowds of younger students and parents and others.

I gave my blue t-shirt to some students to paint for me (they are working on their own, too). They gave me a nickname and a number, and I am just about ready to coach, and have a blast.

Then, on Thursday night, after a full day of running and jumping and competing, the students get to team up and play against us teachers (our team name: Pink Fury). I’m tired just thinking about it.

:)

Peace (in the art),
Kevin