Destination this morning: FairPlay House, Witham, to write poems with a group of East London students on a residential outward bound experience. Meanwhile, Barbican Young Poets will be rehearsing this evening for next Wednesday’s showcase…
“I don’t have access to this kind of thing on computer but, oddly enough, what you’re talking about sounds very much like the way I start looking for ideas when I’m not working on anything. Or when I’m just letting myself drift, relax. I generally have four or five books open around the house—I live alone; I can do this—and they are not books on the same subject. They don’t relate to each other in any particular way, and the ideas they present bounce off one another. And I like this effect. I also listen to audio-books, and I’ll go out for my morning walk with tapes from two very different audio-books, and let those ideas bounce off each other, simmer, reproduce in some odd way, so that I come up with ideas that I might not have come up with if I had simply stuck to one book until I was done with it and then gone and picked up another. So, I guess, in that way, I’m using a kind of primitive hypertext.”
The UnPD: “On writing questions to spark inquiry, from Teaching as a Subversive Activity [by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner]. “What’s worth knowing?“” And, as Anne Galloway notes, “Never mind the sexist language, these are STELLAR teaching goals!”
Will your questions increase the learner’s will as well as his capacity to learn?
Will they help to give him a sense of joy in learning?
Will they help to provide the learner’s with confidence in his ability to learn?
In order to get answers, will the learner be required to make inquiries? (Ask further questions, clarify terms, make observations, classify data, etc.?)
Does each question allow for alternative answers (which implies alternative modes of inquiry)
Will the process of answering the questions tend to stress the uniqueness of the learner?
Would the questions produce different answers if asked at different stages of the learner’s development?
Will the answers help the learner to sense and understand the universals in the human condition and so enhance his ability to draw closer to other people?
“It’s very likely that our next Octavia Butler is today writing on WattPad or Tumblr or Facebook. When those servers cease to respond, what will we lose? More than the past is at stake—all our imagined futures are at risk, too.”
(via Maria Popova – Wisdom in the Age of Information (Future of StoryTelling 2014) on Vimeo)
Virginia Woolf, “The death of the moth”.
“Straying from the standardised template of education is scary; it forces you to address and take responsibility for the shape and continuation of your own education. Yet this self-directing approach is also far closer to the constantly inquisitive, curious state that being an artist entails.”
“Language is just music without the full instrumentation. Music doesn’t have the burden of connotation that language does. I prefer music, actually. I think there’s almost no room between the two. Talking about what a poem can do, think about Miles Davis or Beethoven—those pieces that have communicated something emotional without language; the only language you have is the title. I think a poem can do that, but people resist that. I’m chasing a kind of language that can be unburdened by people’s expectations. I think music is the primary model—how close can you get this language to be like music and communicate feeling at the base level in the same way a composition with no words communicates meaning?”
“If you think about an animal, there’s no perfect animal. Most people think of poems like they’re machines. I’m thinking of something more organic and human that exists the way it needs to exist, more like a baby or child. How do you achieve that? I think of myself as a person who likes to be in control of everything. So how do I surprise myself? For so long I’ve been this person who’s been too in control, so how do I relinquish control? Some of it’s about line breaks, narrative. I like the poem to look a certain way in terms of line breaks, but how do I release control? Some of it is subject matter. The poet wants to be liked in the poem, but what does it mean to not always chase some kind of appeal? Discomfort, vulnerability, rawness that come up in a poem—that also has to do with perfection, the absence of perfection. That’s hard to teach, but if you make people more generous in the workshop, then you can get it. You say, “Oh, it’s not a perfect poem, but it’s pretty good; we’ll take that.” It creates generosity if you aren’t chasing a perfect object.”
“Scientists from the University of Southampton in the UK have created a new data format that encodes information in tiny nanostructures in glass. A standard-sized disc can store around 360 terabytes of data, with an estimated lifespan of up to 13.8 billion years even at temperatures of 190°C. That’s as old as the Universe, and more than three times the age of the Earth.”
“We are, in the deepest sense, responsible for ourselves. We are, as Sartre put it, the authors of ourselves. Through the accretion of our choices, our actions, and our failures to act, we ultimately design ourselves. We cannot avoid this responsibility, this freedom. In Sartre’s terms, ‘we are condemned to freedom.’”
– Irvin D. Yalom, The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients (via creatingaquietmind)
Singapore is always (consistently) good to/for me. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to spend so much time there, and to have returned so frequently. And my experience of Singapore is largely based on the people I’ve met while I’ve been there— poets, students, teachers and more. I look forward to my next visit!
“…line breaks have everything to do with doubt. That’s why poetry is so different from prose, because it’s infused with doubt. At the moment of a line break, even if it’s for a millisecond, you’re thrust into doubt; you’re thrust into a place where you’re not certain what just happened or what’s going to happen. Only faith that the next line will land us on solid ground is what keeps us breathing.”
– Jericho Brown, from his essay The Possibility of God (via kathleenjoy)
“To save time, take time in large pieces. Do not cut time up into bits…The mind is like a locomotive. It requires time for getting under headway. Under headway it makes its own steam. Progress gives force as force makes progress. Do not slow down as long as you run well and without undue waste. Take advantage of momentum. Prolonged thinking leads to profound thinking.”
The work of a professional isn’t to recreate thrills. It’s to show up and do the work. To continue the journey you set out on a while ago. To make the change you seek to make in the universe.
Thrilling is fine. Mattering is more important.