Visual Poem Remix: Miles (by Mike Sheffield Brown)

In the Open Write space yesterday, another writer/poet shared a poem of a colleague about Miles Davis, since I was writing mine about Dave Brubeck, and I really enjoyed the prose poem from Mike Sheffield Brown in a journal called Still Life 2020.

I took the liberty of a visual remix — a sort of listening riff to his poem —  by first turning his poem into the bell of a trumpet with some odd apps I have that break apart an image (I had a screenshot of his poem), and then layering in some animated musical notes into the image. I wish I could have added as little Miles music underneath but use your imagination.

Here is the song that Mike references in his piece, the first Miles Davis he heard as a teenager that blew him away as he listened to the vinyl album he borrowed from the city library in his empty house and was transported into something completely different.

I found Mike’s email and wrote him about what I had, sharing my appreciation for his words. I’ll see if he writes back.

Peace (listening in),
Kevin

Video Project: Ten Steps (Side Yard)

I am going to try a short video project series this summer, taking ten images of ten steps on different terrain, and using SoundSlides to make a one-minute video.

Why?

Part of it is to pay attention to the world where we walk. Part of it is to explore different paths. Part of it just curiosity – how many different videos can I make over the summer month? And part of it is just to be creative with digital media, although this is a project of simplicity, for sure: ten images pulled into a video cross-fade mix with music underneath.

Why ten? For attention span purposes, a one-minute video works best, and six seconds per image seemed to be just about right, so that’s where the ten came from and I think it works, particularly if you have a slow cross-fade from image to image.

Join me, if you want. (I pay for a premium account with SoundSlides, but I think there is a trial version for a limited number of videos for a limited amount of time. It’s a great digital storytelling with image site, hosted by a single person whose goal is put digital storytelling into the hands of people, and I highly recommend it.)

For my first video, I just stepped out my door to the side yard.

Peace (and landscape),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Appreciative But …

Cash BonusThe public sector, at least where I work as a teacher, never gets a bonus. We negotiate a contract and that’s that. So I was surprised to see our small town using some of its federal Pandemic money to give out cash bonuses to those of us who worked in municipal buildings (like schools) during the height of the Covid surges. A check arrived recently with my regular pay.

I wrestled with this comic, though, because I fear it comes across as ungrateful (which I truly am not) and that it appears I don’t fully appreciate others who worked just like I did, and are getting nothing from their bosses. I am thinking of all those people who worked in grocery stores and restaurants and hospitals, and of those other teachers in different towns who may not get this kind of benefit.

For some reason, it was the hourly breakdown of bonus that got my attention, as if my time in the building during Covid was codified into a dollar amount of about a dollar. (To be honest, it would have been more helpful if, during the Covid year, the town had done more to listen to teachers’ concerns and valued our input more, and made us feel like we were partners. I guess unused federal cash is easier to give out afterwards than cooperation in the moment.)

Peace (and comics),
Kevin

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