Monday, February 09, 2009

two things in the recent mail:
  1. A book:

    by Eileen Tabios, a wee little book. it is a Teeny Tiny chapbook, produced by Amanda Laughtland, whose other chaps can be seen here. this is an anti-brick, consisting of a single sheet of paper folded into 6 pages, plus covers. the story is a short poetic sortie, with holes open for the reader to fill. it is yet another adventure from the institution that is Eileen Tabios. or do I mean instigation. “Nearby, needless to say, breathed the 1950 Petrus.” I believe I have tasted the 70 vintage of Petrus, which is named for a famous disciple. fwiw.

  2. A teaching certificate:

    I am now licensed to teach. while I seek employ, let me ruminate, perhaps even divagate, on education. just before I entered 2nd grade we moved across town, and I had a different school to attend. this school, for some reason, was experimental, unlike the other elementary schools in town. in the other ones, students stayed in the same classroom all day, whereas in mine we shifted to different classrooms for different classes. the school blended grades somewhat. I was among a handful of students who took French lessons in 3rd grade. the school secretary would round up those of us who took this class and brought us to the weirdo who taught it. weirdo, I came to discover, is synonymous with French teacher. I mean no disrespect, just observing. I learned to conjugate a few verbs in the 4 years of French that I took in elementary school, and I had to sing a lot of baffling French songs. a feature of my elementary school (Franklin School, named after a famous president of the US, or at least so I understood for perhaps too long) was a lot of singing. several teachers that I had could be expected to haul out their guitar, and we had many school wide conventions in the auditorium during which the teachers led a hootenanny. too real! the repertoire was folk music, the Pete Seeger canon, I would say, with a fair taste of international music. it amuses me to think of an auditorium of children singing about marching to Pretoria. come the revolution, brothers and sisters… three teachers from the school actually quit teaching to become folk singers. we gathered in front of the television once to watch them singing somewhere. honest!

    my senior year at high school I was offered the opportunity of an experimental program. I mean, the entire senior class was so offered. I took it mostly because my friend did, I think. the program was called Education Without Walls, shortened to, heaven help us, EWOW (ee-wow). the teachers were allowed to offer courses that really interested them, and students too could teach courses. I took my first creative writing course, and my stellar pass/fail evaluation is posted on this very blog, a few weeks back. it was a great experience for me.

    et puis--which means look, this proves that I learned something in French class--I went to Franconia College, which was along the lines of Black Mountain or Antioch, I imagine, tho no one ever said so. located in the woolly realm of north central New Hampshire, a federally recognized poverty zone, it was under-financed but had a good heart. I did a lot of writing there. my 1st semester, I was supposed to write 20 pages of material (poetry, in my case) for the semester. I wrote 40 pages before the class had convened the 1st time. this course was taught by a fiction writer who did not feel qualified to critique poetry, tho I found his advice useful and sound. during my 2nd semester a search went for a poetry professor. several candidates read at the school. Robert Grenier was the winner. he left Tufts (where my father went to school), and Kenneth Irby took his place there. Grenier, as I have said a-many times, has had great effect on my course and direction. I recall that all the candidates for the poetry position made much of Olson and Creeley. I think my education did a pretty decent job of not stifling my interest. I remember learning about Heinrich Schliemann in elementary school, and whaling, and dinosaurs, all very exciting. and I am still interested in French, and folk music. education is opportunity. I can legitimately say that I am a lifelong learner. I owe this to the fortuitous facts of my education.

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