If We Were Having Coffee…Winter Edition

No picture of me with a drink today. I'm sniffly :(

No picture of me with a drink today. I’m sniffly 😦

(Not sure what this series is about? Check out the first post here!)

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I’m not quite ready for school to start. For as much as I enjoy teaching, the holiday break didn’t quite feel like enough time. Perhaps this is because I was sick through most of break (see above photo) and am still trying to get over whatever it is I have. I had my first day of class this past Thursday and am happy to report it went well. This week starts the real grind with assignment sheets and keeping up with reading and grading.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that Poetry Monday is on a hiatus. My poetry well is experiencing a bit of a drought. I started Poetry Monday because my cup was full, and I had so much to share. Now I’m struggling a bit, so I’m putting it on an indefinite hold (though I’ll reassess at the mid-year point) to fill my well again. In the meantime, I’ll be sharing other fun things on Mondays (and other days too).

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I just wrote a letter to a friend. And it felt awesome! I think letter (or card) writing is a long lost art. Sure, people do it during the holidays, but what about the rest of the year? I vote we bring back snail mail somethin’ fierce!

I’d ask you what you thought of letter writing. I’d also ask when was the last time you wrote an honest-to-goodness handwritten letter.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that so far, I’m doing OK with my New Year’s resolutions. I think trimming down the number of goals has a lot to do with it. My goals also focus on areas of my life I really want to improve rather than on areas I “should” improve. Perhaps my favorite goal to work on thus far is daily meditation. I find I look forward to this practice. Who knew sitting still for a few minutes each day could be so rewarding?

I’d ask you what you hope to accomplish this year.

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that I want to offer one or two writing e-courses this summer and am nervous about it. The usual questions pop up (What if no one signs up? What if people sign up but don’t like it? etc). I’d tell you that I’ve been pushing those thoughts aside and have been trying to move forward.

I’d also tell you there was a way you could help me form these courses. I’ve prepared a short, eight-question survey to gauge interest in these types of courses as well as collect stats on the type of content people would love to see in a writing e-course. Interested in giving your two cents? Take the survey!

If we were having coffee…I’d tell you that my life has all the marking of an adult life, but I still feel like a kid. I’m married. I have a somewhat steady income from my freelance work. I pay rent. But I’m always silly! I don’t know…I guess I figured that at some point I’d feel like I knew what I was doing. I’m actually just enjoying playing….that seems like the real me. I feel like even when my husband and I decide to have kids, we’ll still play. Perhaps that’s a big part of what parenting is: showing your kids how to play well at life.

I’d ask you if there was a moment that really made you feel like an honest-to-goodness adult.

Now it’s your turn! What would you tell me if we were having coffee?

Transcribing by Hand

Patrick Rosal recently told how he asked his students to transcribe one poem by hand.  He was right there with them on this assignment and posted his written transcript of Celan’s piece “Death Fugue”.  He then invited anyone who was willing to join in on the fun to post pictures of their transcription.  Here’s my attempt.  I transcribed Jericho Brown’s poem “Again”.




I’ve read this poem aloud a few times, but hand writing the piece was a completely different experience.  I noticed aspects of the poem I had somehow skipped over in my previous readings, such as the fact that each line begins with a capital letter.  I was also more aware of each line as its own unit, rather than rushing through the line to get to the end of the sentence.  It was in this head space that I became fascinated with the line “For my feet. In the dark/”. Here is the end of one sentence and the beginning of another. But as a unit, these two phrases are really engaging. What is for your feet in darkness? What does it matter since you cannot see your own feet in the dark? I pictured losing one’s way since the next step cannot be seen.  Or, maybe, this is freeing since there is no prescribed path; this presents the chance to carve a different path.

Perhaps the most surprising turn out of this experience was the urge to read the poem backwards, line by line. Here is one section of the poem as it is in the original poem:
Give a man a minute.
She’s asleep and I’m typing it
all over again. Everywhere
A man is shifting a bit
To make his woman comfortable
In his arms.

And here is that same section typed backwards (I’ve changed the punctuation a bit for the sake of flow):
In his arms,
To make his woman comfortable,
A man is shifting a bit
All over again. Everywhere
She’s asleep and I’m typing it.
Give a man a minute.

The backwards version has a different, almost cryptic, meaning compared to the original version. But it’s a great exercise to extract different syntaxes, explore different word arrangements. I found this to be a great prompt. I’m definitely going to start a poem with the line “Everywhere, she’s asleep.”