Today’s list of provocations for working with students on group poems for the teachers and poets of the Spoke Word Cup 2014 programme (another day, another youth slam project…;)
Workshop planning with @foldingtext - timings in blue are auto-generated, calculated from the text based lengths of time I’ve entered at the end of each line/paragraph (see italics, auto-formatted). “Start :” line is automagically generated, and can be edited, meaning plans can be reused and refreshed simply by changing the start time. And the beauty of all of this is that it actually serves as a step by step timer. The current step is highlighted at the appropriate time, and a notification pops up on each next step. Way to stay on time during a workshop plan! At the end of the list, which you can’t see here, an end time also dynamically generated, so if you change timings on the fly, you can see the ramifications instantly.
I wouldn’t use this during every workshop— much of my facilitation is responsive, and by the time I’m in the space, I’ve already got the plan in my head. Any changes that need to be made are implemented organically, and we roll with what comes. That said, as a planning tool, this is beautiful. And it’s just one mode of a pretty stellar text editor, with todo lists, outlining, node folding, text tagging and more. So you can write poems, plan workshops and manage projects all in the same app, using plain text files that you can open on any platform in any other text editor. This just jumped to the top of my toolkit.
For today’s #morningreading I’m still with the Kevin Stein (Sufficiency of the Actual). Most, if not all, of these captures have been the beginnings of longer poems. This starts as any “definition poem” might, but sustains a bold trajectory moving forward, testament to Stein’s vision and linguistic verve. If you haven’t yet been moved to investigate his work further, do yourself a favour…
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. Consider this utterly commonplace situation: a man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically he slows down. Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable
incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himself from a thing still too close to him in time.
In existential mathematics, that experience takes the form of two basic equations: the degree of slowness is directly proportion to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting.”
- Milan Kundera, from Slowness (HarperCollins, 1996)
“It takes a lot of sometimes painful self-realization to figure out what that message is in the first…”
- What I Have to Say: Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai | The Define School
“Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old…”
Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.
And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper would tell the truth, would create beauty.”
- Virginia Woolf, who drowned on March 28, 1941, on the art of language and the beauty of words in the only surviving recording of her voice. (via explore-blog)
“For language to have meaning there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word…”
- Thomas Merton, “Disputed Questions” (via litverve)
INTERVIEWER: Wordsworth spoke of growing up “Fostered alike by beauty and by fear,” and he put fearful experiences first; but he also said that his primary subject was “the mind of Man.” Don’t you write more about the mind than about the external world?
BARTHELME: In a commonsense way, you write about the impingement of one upon the other—my subjectivity bumping into other subjectivities, or into the Prime Rate. You exist for me in my perception of you (and in some rough, Raggedy Andy way, for yourself, of course). That’s what’s curious when people say, of writers, This one’s a realist, this one’s a surrealist, this one’s a super-realist, and so forth. In fact, everybody’s a realist offering true accounts of the activity of mind. There are only realists.
- How we work: Francis Bacon, Elizabethan polymath - rodcorp
“Without discomfort your comfort becomes your main weakness. Change is uncomfortable and discomfort…”
- The Virtue of Discomfort - Jacob Lund Fisker
“There are two birds in your head, raven and crow, and only one of them is yours. A ghost and a robot…”
There are two birds in your head, raven and crow, and only one of them is yours. A ghost and a robot doing battle, singing like telephones, the phone is ringing, a headache word. You are dancing with the birdcage girl, banging your head against a cage that isn’t there. You want to say yes: yes to the bathtub, yes to the gumdrops, no to the laughing skullheads.
The holes in this picture are not flowers, they are not wheels, and the phone is ringing ringing, a headache word, it’s ringing for you. This is in the second person. This is happening to you because I don’t want to be here. Is there anything I won’t put words around? Yes, there is.”
- Richard Siken, opening two paragraphs to “Black Telephone,” from the “Editor’s Page" of Spork (No. 1.3, Winter 2001-2002)
“Readmill has just posted an official confirmation of yesterday’s acquisition story. They now belong…”
Another day, another app in my toolbox dies. It’s enough to make a forward thinking lit/tech geek very cautious about investing any serious time or effort in the next big app that comes along…
Stands to reason. Beyond itooamoxford.tumblr.com, there’s also itooamsoas.tumblr.com and wetooarecambridge.tumblr.com, capturing the experiences of “students of colour”. Most of the images give pause. Every now and then, one of them hits particularly hard.
- James Baldwin
So I’m really very into the Quantified Self movement, although I’m not quite a QS data-meister. I’ve owned a few wearables— a Fuelband (which died late last year) and an UP band (which died recently, sniff), and I’ve usually always got some kind of tracking experiment going on. I’m currently making use of Reporter, Oda, Moves and a few Numbers spreadsheets to track the highs and lows of my daily activity. That said, perhaps the most accurate indication for my mood and productivity is my web-based output. When I’m firing on all cylinders, the writing happens, blog posts flow, and pictures get taken. When I’m manic, the creative outputs drop off, one by one, and yet it’s such a soul-warming thing to write, to capture a beautiful image… it’s exactly what I need when buried under a seemingly infinite pile of things to do.
The weather’s changing (for the better) here in London, and though I’m currently still manic, the compulsion to get the camera out is returning. I’m dusting off my photoblog and the Flickr account (member since 2005!) and hoping to crank out a few new images in the not too distant future. I’ve just scanned through my most recent memory active card, and I’ve come across a backlog of images that haven’t yet seen the light of day, largely drawn from the poetry events I’ve supported/managed/run over the past couple of years.
Franklyn Rodgers once challenged me to do more documentary work. I think I’d like to do more along these lines. More to capture some sense the worlds I find myself living and working within.
So, back to the camera.
Roman Mars — This is Radio
This, for no real reason other than the fact that I’m a stalwart listener of 99% Invisible…
Person of colour? Ever identify with the label of “other”? You need to see I, Too, Am Oxford.
I took a quick trip through the archives today, and it moved me in ways I didn’t expect. So much that resonates with my own school experience, and other experiences since. Simple idea, powerful collective statement.
GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ: That’s a journalistic trick which you can also apply to literature. For example, if you say that there are elephants flying in the sky, people are not going to believe you. But if you say that there are four hundred and twenty-five elephants flying in the sky, people will probably believe you. One Hundred Years of Solitude is full of that sort of thing. That’s exactly the technique my grandmother used. I remember particularly the story about the character who is surrounded by yellow butterflies. When I was very small there was an electrician who came to the house. I became very curious because he carried a belt with which he used to suspend himself from the electrical posts. My grandmother used to say that every time this man came around, he would leave the house full of butterflies. But when I was writing this, I discovered that if I didn’t say the butterflies were yellow, people would not believe it.
“Such a small, pure object a poem could be, made of nothing but air, a tiny string of letters, maybe…”
- Mary Karr, from Lit: A Memoir (Harper, 2009)