Poem: Things To Do ….

A Single Match

The prompt over at Open Write was a “things to do with ….(object)” poem and since there was a single word prompt over at Mastodon with the word “scorched,” I combined the two into a poem about a match.

Peace (and poems),
Kevin

Book Review: More Real Life Rock

Buy More Real Life Rock by Greil Marcus With Free Delivery | wordery.com

I recently read through, and reviewed, Greil Marcus’ earlier collection of columns about pop culture, music and politics — Real Life Rock — without realizing that he had a brand new collection out called More Real Life Rock. So I grabbed that one, too, and, as with the first, I enjoyed most of what Marcus has written in these Top Ten formatted short pieces of analysis and insights, almost always with some connection to music.

While the first collection covered a span of time from 1986 to 2014, as Marcus jumped from different platforms to host his column, this second collection is more modern day, with a big part taking place during the Trump years. The years covered in this one is from 2014-2021, and again, was hosted in a variety of places.

The insights of Marcus are always intriguing as he mixed quotes and editorials and reviews of music and shows, and sometimes, friends writing in to him about the world, and yet, he always seems fixated on some central artists of the past — Bob Dylan and the Band continue to get featured quite a bit, sometimes in celebratory mode but just as often, with a critical eye. Sleater-Kinney gets lots of ink in this collection, and that’s a good thing.

I appreciated learning about many musical artists that I had not heard of before, and it’s clear that Marcus has a veracious appetite for music and art, and through the reading of these columns (which ran in places like Barnes & Noble online magazine, Pitchfork and others), one can make a connection to the larger world, of how art intersects with culture and politics. His playfulness with skewering the Top Ten format is appreciated.

I won’t say I agreed with all of his views, and that’s OK. He can have a biting way with words, particularly if he doesn’t like something or finds it lacking in integrity or originality. I prefer that voice of his in this context, as it resonates through the entire collection of pieces. Apparently, he’s once again without a platform home (I wonder what editors think of his pieces), but I read that he is might be moving his Top Ten column over to Substack as a newsletter in the near future, so I might wander over and see what he’s up to there.

Peace (and criticism),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Student End of Year Reflections

Learning About Writing (student reflections)

As we near the end of this school year, I have asked my sixth grade students to “grade” me on a variety of topics, giving me some anonymous input and information about how they perceived me as a teacher of writing, reading and technology.

The first set of questions center on writing, and I wondered if they identified growth in themselves as writers, and if our regular writing activities were central to how they thought about our ELA class this year. (see chart above)

I was pleased to see that most students thought they emerged as a better writing, and that they learned new skills and new genres this year in the field of writing. My aim is always to support them as writers and then challenge them in new directions as well.

Other parts of the survey connect to reading, technology and my role as a teacher. I left a space for them to write me a comment, if they wanted, and it warmed my heart to read what they wrote. A few stood out.

When I first came to 6th grade ELA was my least liked class but, now after this year I have come enjoy writing. Thank you for all you have done for me, I enjoyed my time in your class and I’m sure that many people in the future will enjoy your class too. I think one thing you can do better as a teacher would be to allow more free write (story writing) in the year and also sometimes have a share time for people to share their work. Over-all I enjoyed being in your class. Thank you for being a great teacher.

Overall ELA class was my favorite class this year. I like when we were able to to free write in our notebook. ELA class entertaining and fun the majority of the time. Your positive mindset help with the overall vibe in class this year. I think you should keep doing writing prompts and let students explore with writing more on their own. Thanks for a great year.
This ELA class was the best one so far, keep it up Mr. Hodgson. I would not change anything

Peace (in thoughts and reflection),
Kevin

Book Review: Six Walks (In The Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau)

Six Walks | Tin House

Ben Shattuck’s wonderful new book — Six Walks (In The Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau) — is built on a quest, of sorts. Shattuck wants to wander, and he uses six different adventures that Thoreau wrote about in various books and journals as a guide to leave home and explore. Where Thoreau goes, so goes Shattuck.

The result becomes more of an internal journey, as Shattuck uses the explorations (Cape Cod, New Hampshire, Maine, etc.) as a way to think about his own world, in the quiet of contemplation from being alone (mostly). Throughout the book, Shattuck weaves in the voice of Thoreau, in his many complications as a person and writer and thinker, while making his own observations of nature and the world.

Quite a bit of time passes between the first three walks and the last three, and Shattuck’s own life has changed, as he is engaged and has a child on the way, and the gap between that earlier, uncertain life and the one where he finds love as a force of stability gives the writing balance and ballast.

I enjoyed his observations of the forests and sea coasts and lakes, and the ability Shattuck has for weaving narrative from those observational strands, never flinching from difficult stories nor worrying about celebratory ones. And Thoreau hovers like a ghost in the book, his words and own travels guiding Shattuck forward into the wilderness of discovery.

I could see this book, and the model of the hikes inspired by another writer, as a possible text for folks who participate in the yearly Write Out adventures.

Peace (in the farther woods),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Quiet At The Quabbin

Biking the Quabbin

I had to use a Personal Day, or lose it, so yesterday, I took a day off from school, and found some solitude and quiet at the Quabbin Reservoir, a state-protected space with a controversial history (Boston needed water, so it decided to flood a handful of Western Massachusetts towns that had no say in the matter and build the reservoir.)

There were only a few people around as I rode my bike over the large dam and up the roadway to the scenic overlooks of a beautiful space. The day was perfectly clear — low 70s, no humidity, and blue skies. I was happy in the quiet.

The day allowed me to catch my breath as we hit the final two weeks of a most difficult school year, one in which the end can’t come quickly enough for all of us.

Peace (outside),
Kevin

Three Words; Three Poems

Thunder and the Lightning Line

These three poems began as text, from a daily one-word prompt over at Mastodon, and then became something slightly different as media when I moved the poems over to different platforms (Pablo, Canva, Lumen5) to make something more visual as a means to add texture and layer to the small poems.

The poem above was inspired by the word “thunder” and the ones below by “wish” and then by “seize.” If you are on Mastodon, you can follow the daily word, and assorted poems, and be inspired to write or create, too.

Peace (along the edges),
Kevin

CLMOOC Silent Sunday

SilentSunday

Ok — so not completely silent this Sunday: this is a gift from a student, one with whom I have struggled to keep engaged in learning all year. Sometimes, a student surprises you, and so they did, with this beautiful work of art on large canvas.

Peace (and imagination),
Kevin