“Poetry is a bird. Prose is a potato.”

November 21, 2009

In an ongoing conversation with a novelist friend about their respective genres, Billy Collins said yesterday as the guest speaker at the National Writing Project annual meeting that “Poetry is a bird. Prose is a potato.” I wonder if he really means it — because I’ve met some potato poems and some bird prose in my time.

It may be that Collins pays prose a compliment — prose feeds us, does the hard, earthy work of conveying information, telling stories. Poetry does those things, too. But does he mean that prose is the workhorse of language? That can be both compliment and insult — especially if poetry’s birdiness takes us places, wings us up to the airy spots of imagination and beauty. But then poetry can also be flighty. And not in a good way.

Given Collins’ penchant for poking fun at everything, including himself, I suspect he means all those things. So while at first listen, “Poetry is a bird. Prose is a potato” sounds like an insult — and when we all laughed, I assumed the joke was at prose’s expense — that may not be so. I imagine potato-prose hopping on the back of bird-poetry, and the two of them flying next to eagles. When poetry gets hungry, it takes a bite out of prose. When prose gets bored, it shifts its perch for a startling view.

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the best or worst breakup — EH 101 blog post #2

November 6, 2009

Is there ever a best breakup?
I guess if you’ve had a horrible relationship, any breakup will be good, eh?

I”m going to be general here because I don’t feel comfortable talking about my breakups. I think that most breakups are drawn out — even if there’s a precipitating event such as one person moving away or having an affair. Even with such events, I think it always takes a long time to declare a relationship over. And even after that happens, unless you’re going to therapy or have exceptionally keen insight into your own self, the wounds linger.

OK, that was fully depressing.


Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize – EH 101 blog post #3

November 6, 2009

I know many folks believe that Obama should not have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. President Obama is one of those people. But once awarded the prize, I don’t see how he could have rejected it. No matter what the brouhaha, I think the Nobel Academy’s choice demonstrates Europe’s (and the world’s) immense disgust with the Bush administration and their relief that the U.S. now has a chance to redeem itself and do the right thing — that is, pay attention to the rest of the world. I don’t think the Obama administration has done enough to promote peace in the world — there’s much more to do. But they’ve made a start.


The craziest thing I ever did EH 101 blog post #4

November 6, 2009

Anything I remember has to do with consumption of alcohol, and I’m not sure that’s the best thing to write about. I’ve been in recovery for over twenty-three years. Let’s not go there.

OK, non-drunk crazy stuff. Hmmm. This was not crazy, but I wonder if I would let my kid do it. The fall after I graduate from high school, I took off for Berlin and didn’t know when — or if — I’d come back.

I’d spent the summer after my junior year as an AFS (American Field Service) exchange student living with a German family, and I returned to Connecticut a changed person. I wanted to go back to Germany, so I could really learn the language. Since I graduated early from high school, I spent that spring semester of my senior year working as a waitress to save money. I also researched programs that would allow me to live in Germany, and I found a place in West Berlin — a home for physically handicapped children. (I’m still blown away that I did all this research and communication via phone and letters — this was the early 70s!) This home, Fürst Donnersmarck-Haus, gave me room and board and a small monthly allowance in exchange for my working with the kids in the home. At age 18, I packed up, took off for a foreign city, and didn’t know when or if I’d return. My parents must have been worried, but they still supported me. I don’t know if I’d be able to do the same with my son.


Do I believe in ghosts? EH 101 blog post #5

November 6, 2009

Maybe.
I’m not sure.
Yes.
Sometimes no.
My friend Julie tells this really scary story of staying at a hotel with another friend and knowing that the room was haunted and waking up and dealing with the ghost. Very scary story.
I know I’ve felt presences. I suppose I believe that souls or parts of a living thing do not disappear at death. And so I believe these presences can be felt. I guess that’s as far as I can go.


What I did on Halloween – EH 101 post #6

November 6, 2009

Not much.

pumpkinsOK, I need to write more. I know that. But seriously. I didn’t. Do much. My son and his friend and I carved pumpkins the week before. I took all the pumpkin seeds and roasted them. The pumpkins rotted one by one. First my son’s pumpkin collapsed. Then mine disappeared into itself. Then my son’s friend’s pumpkin succumbed to the furry grey stuff growing on it and all the bugs who’d made a fast food stop out of the thing. It also rained really hard one night, and I could hear the rain falling from the roof onto the pumpkins on the balcony railing. I kept waking up all night wondering what that pounding was. I finally figured out it was booming rain on pumpkin (that could be a good band name, eh?) but didn’t want to get drenched by going outside and taking the melting pumpkins off the balcony railing.

And now you have way too much information about what I did not do on Halloween.