I truly enjoy tutoring in writing. The challenge of teaching students from wildly different backgrounds to argue using the written word, the camaraderie of the Academic Resource Center, the opportunity to spend hours every day thinking and talking about writing all floats my boat just fine. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I also get frustrated. Some of my students students treat words as hammers to pound out a enough analysis to get As on their papers, rather than as subtle, secretive, glimmering friends. On these days, I rebel by finding a new poem to put on the community white-board.
I put up a poem at least every week. My poems speak clearly, are not aggressively complex linguistically, and leave me with small and shimmering images. As I know from memorizing music, the act of copying ingrains the text of my poems into my mind, where I can pull them up and examine their language whenever I want to. Here have been my choices thus far:
- “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
- “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert E. Hayden
- “To David, About His Education” by Howard Nemerov
For a campus with no English majors, I feel a little radical, a little subversive pushing poetry in the ARC. Because all of the introductory English classes assign only non-fiction work, my poems are the only exposure most students get inside the University to fiction. Just writing that makes me sad.
For my next few poems, I am considering “To a Daughter Leaving Home” by Linda Pastan, “For a Five-Year-Old” by Fleur Adcock, and “The State of the Economy” by Louis Jenkins. For fans of Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac” you may recognize a lot of these poems–that is where I fell in love with them.
What did I know, what did I knowof love’s austere and lonely offices?–“Those Winter Sundays” by Robert E. Hayden