Sunday, February 21, 2016

More Blast From the Past

When I taught at UCAS I used to do writing circles where we picked a topic and then wrote on it. I picked a different group to work with each time. When I was finally down to organizing the last of my filing, I found several of these pieces that I apparently never saved in a digital form -- here is one of them.

Gifting from the Comfort of Your Home

There are two things in life that I truly hate: calling people on the phone and shopping in the mall at Christmas time. Some people find it exhilarating and exciting to shop at malls when they are wall-to-wall people--I am not one them. I don't like being jostled, I don't like noise, and I most definitely don't like waiting in lines.

Because of this, I have become a dedicated internet shopper. There is something intrinsically exciting about getting packages in the mail. Someone has to do something to keep the postal service in business, right? 

Of course there are a few downsides to internet shopping--the shipping can be expensive, the clothes occasionally don't fit, and you have to do something with all those boxes. Speaking of boxes, I like to break mine down and get them into the recycle bin before anyone notices that I just got another eleven boxes in the mail. Heck, internet shopping is the reason I HAVE a recycle bin.

However, once you have destroyed the evidence, you are still faced with the dilemma of where to store the contents of said eleven boxes. If you follow my concept of complete anti-surprise, you will just leave the contents out on the counter, and the recipients have to pretend to be surprised when they show up in their birthday/Christmas package a week later.

The real problem surfaces when the items you just ordered from the internet don't fit, or even worse but occasionally true, are rejected out of hand by the giftees. You are then faced with two choices: stand in a long line at the post office to mail them back, usually on your dime, or take them back to the mall/store where you will have to deal with crowds, lines, and noise.

Really, when it comes to shopping for gifts, it's a lose-lose world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ekphrastic Human Rights Poetry

According to Google, an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

We just started a unit on Chris Crowe's nonfiction book, Getting Away With Murder. I passed around iconic visuals from the 1950s and 60s pertaining to civil rights and had the students create ekphrastic poetry about them. The students had some really good ones. Here are two I created for them -- not my best work as it was on the fly -- but okay.

They look like anyone's child --
clean cut, well dressed.

But the smiles on their faces
belie the words on their signs
and the hateful look in their eyes.

Strike. Won't. Don't.


Hate is even worse when it
masquerades as morality and
moonlights as tradition.

I knew music and color went together –

soulful blues, breezy greens, melodic mauves,
red hot notes and moody purples
mixing and mingling in harmony.

Now they tell me music only comes in
black or white –

but I still hear

the rainbow.