“Resisting Juan Crow in Alabama” by Shaun Harkin and Nicole Colson is an excellent update on Alabama’s horrific anti-immigration law and the resistance it’s generated. Clear-headed and informative, this is a good read.
For an authentic history of International Women’s Day, visit A woman’s place is in the revolution by Elizabeth Schulte.
I love WordPress. This morning, I received an email from them summarizing my blog stats for 2010, and they provided a link so that I could post the summary to my blog. Which I did. (See previous posting.) And now as I’m posting, I see the snow on the page — I noticed this on another blog I was reading and thought the snow belonged to that blog — but now I see it’s a WordPress thing. Very cool.
I emailed students this weekend and my subject line read “school shooting” — I wrote in my email that I had hoped never to have to send an email with that subject line. UAHuntsville joins the list of universities who have experienced sudden and fatal violence — this time, the shooter was a biology faculty member whose appeal to overturn tenure denial was also denied.
I’ve lost my balance with every school shooting, but this time, I’m not sure there’s anything solid under my feet. Part of that shakiness has to do with another school shooting just a week prior — a ninth-grade student at Discovery Middle School in Madison AL shot and killed another ninth-grader. The crime was supposed to have been gang related.
I found myself making this surreal statement: At least the shootings were targeted and not random bullet sprees. But in what kind of world does that statement make any kind of sense? In our world. Where we practice school as holding cell and perpetuate teaching as a lower-level skill. So I’m reading Mike Rose’s Why School? And here’s something from his preface:
We live in an anxious age and seek our grounding, our assurances in ways that don’t satisfy our longing — that, in fact, makes things worse. We’ve lost hope in the public sphere and grab at private solutions, which undercut the sharing of obligation and risk and keep us scrambling for individual advantage. We’ve narrowed the purpose of schooling to economic competitiveness, our kids becoming economic indicators. We’ve reduced our definition of human development and achievement — that miraculous growth of intelligence, sensibility, and the discovery of the world — to a test score. Though we pride ourselves as a nation of opportunity and a second chance, our social policies can be terribly ungenerous. We rush to embrace the new — in work, in goods, in the language we use to describe our problems — yet long for tradition, for craft, for the touch of earth, wood, another hand.
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.
Just read the WordPress blog — they’ve got a new service called After the Deadline, and it’s a proofreading application. Check it out here – http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/atd-wpcom/
Interesting stuff given everything we’ve been talking about with the Twenty Most Common Errors on EasyWriter. I found this suggested link, too: Five Grammatical Errors That Make You Look Dumb. The link was to a WordPress blog, but I found this posting by googling — it’s more thorough and has more resources — by Brian Clark.
My dad sent a picture yesterday of him playing the bagpipes last Memorial Day for the Memorial Day Parade in Wilton CT — something he does every year. My dad just turned 82, and he trains on his treadmill to make sure he can walk the mile or so, often uphill, while blowing his lungs out.