Sunday, January 10, 2010

Three Beautiful Things 01/04-09/10: Open Vowel Sounds, Poetry Nostalgia, Autzen Fog

I paid the price. This past week I paid the price for not doing any preparation work for my two classes while I was on break. Recovering from fall quarter took about a week and then it was off to Idaho and we stayed longer than we planned and, well, I did good work the first week of school, but I was very busy getting caught up and figuring things out and I didn't write in my blog.

So, here are three highlights from the past week, three beautiful things:

1. I loved getting Introduction to Literature: Poetry started up again. It's been three years since I've taught this course and I come alive in unique ways when I get to help students read, listen to, and dig into poetry. We started with Wallace Stevens' "Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" and that opening picture of disillusionment: "The houses are haunted/By white night-gowns". Ahhh! Those big vowel sounds in the words houses and haunted and gowns create plenty of room for ghosts!

2. As is so often the case with teaching poetry, moments I love from my past come alive. I love so many things I've done over the years in the company of poetry. I think back to Whitworth in 1982-83 and the student study room/lounge in the basement of Westminster Hall and the glee Colette and I took in Wallace Stevens' poem "The Emperor of Ice Cream" as we surrendered to its nonsense and reveled in its music and its absurdity, roaring the lines aloud, laughing, really getting it ("Call the roller of big cigars/The muscular one, and bid him whip/In kitchen cups concupiscent curds"). I think of Craig Thomas at Whitworth and the lovely short essay he wrote on Ben Jonson's "On My First Son", how Craig's essay help me appreciate Jonson so much more deeply as a craftsman, how his essay helped me feel anew those haunting words: "O, could I love all father now!". I think back to Whitworth, still again, and the first time, in Core 150, when I first heard James Wright's poem, "A Blessing" -- and when Phil Eaton read it aloud and when he went spontaneously ecstatic as he read the closing lines (Suddenly I realize/That if I stepped out out of my body I would break/Into blossom") and I remember being inspired by the poem and for Phil Eaton's love of the poem, by his ecstasy.

3. Russell and I had a great photography outing Saturday. We went down by Autzen Stadium, near the dog park, and really enjoyed the leafless trees, the fallen trees, the moss, the millstream, and the fog.




1 comment:

inlandempiregirl said...

I love The Blessing. Now I will have to read the others. The stark, black tree provides a good picture.