11 May 2012

An Outsider's Look at Poetry

Johnny Cade, the quiet greaser from S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, has made me take a fresh look at why poetry - and literature in general - is important. We're reading the novel in most of my classes, and reading a book four times a day has opened me up to things I would have missed otherwise.

This is what jumped out at me today:

"'You know," Johnny said slowly, 'I never noticed colors and clouds and stuff until you kept reminding me about them. It seems like they were never there before.'"

Colors, clouds, and stuff - they may as well have not been there. That is until the poetic Ponyboy observes and shares with his friend. I had a similar experience the first full year out of college; newly married and newly moved to Tennessee, it seemed I had never before seen the trees or flower blossoms, or heard the songs of birds, or the dancing of streams. I was jobless - and I was reading Dante. I'm not sure which actually opened my eyes to everything around me, but Dante sure did make me slow down and search for meaning.

07 May 2012

A-Z Reflection: A Sculpted April

The first time I read about the A-Z Challenge, I thought it was madness. Now that I can look back and see that I actually finished it, I know it's madness.

However, a crazy ride like April was a welcome break from normality. It was good to be mad for at least a month.

My first post was A is for Acrostic, a fitting start to a month of writing with a specific form in mind. All too often discipline and form get a bad name for their restrictive nature. However, I found that designing my posts around a theme (beautiful things) and a letter of the alphabet made my writing flow instead of sputter. That starting point, the direction, is often what I'm missing in my posts and in my other writing. I know I have a burden for writing, and I know the words will come if I can get started, but sometimes I need a kick in the pants. The A-Z Challenge was that kick.

I am so very thankful to everyone who stopped by and commented on my posts, and I have to confess - and beg forgiveness - that I'm not a good commenter (my blog isn't an exception) or even visitor. I am planning on plodding through the list of participants though, so stay with me!

04 May 2012

C.S. Lewis and Screwtape

Another good quote from Lewis*
Hang around long enough and you'll quickly learn that I won't go long periods of time without reading Lewis. His letters have been a great way to be in a state of perpetual immersion; I read a bit here and there, and I'm never really out to finish the three volume set, but only enjoy.

Lately, I've been reading The Screwtape Letters. It's my second time through, and I've surprised myself at how much of the book I've remembered. However, the more I think about why I remember so much, the more I realize it's because the book is so probing and accurate. It's a work every Christian has to read, and every non-Christian needs to try. Satirical, witty, and convicting, Lewis has me laughing one minute, and praying the next.

The book takes the form of a senior demon, Screwtape, writing letters to his "nephew" Wormwood. Each letter contains advice on how to tempt Wormwood's patient away from the Enemy, that is, God.

02 May 2012

IWSG: Rest vs. Work

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting the IWSG! It's good to get back on track after taking a break in April - well, not so much break...

April was a whirlwind. The A-Z Blogging Challenge was fun, and I appreciate a discipline like that (especially the form - it gave me a starting point, which is something I don't always have), but I need a breather.

Writing almost every day was something I hadn't done in quite a while. The pressure to post 26 times last month was evidently what I needed to get into a regular grove. However, it's clear that May will include much more rest.

There are a few things I want to accomplish, yet I want to maintain a balance this month - a balance that will continue to challenge me while I seek downtime. It's the same at school; I need to help my students finish strong, but I also want them to enjoy their last few weeks as 7th graders (when I say enjoy I mean read, they hear work or boring).

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