Wednesday, May 19, 2010


So I won't. Imagine Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" playing when you click on this blog page. Now read this poem by Ben Okri, one of my favorite young African (Nigerian) poets. It is exactly what you would expect from Ms. Healey at the end of the year:

10 1/2 Inclinations
There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.
Read outside your own nation, colour, class, gender.
Read the books your parents hate.
Read the books your parents love.
Have one or two authors that are important, that speak to you; and make their works your secret passion.
Read widely, for fun, stimulation, escape.
Don’t read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
Read what you’re not supposed to read.
Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
Books are like mirrors. Don’t just read the words. Go into the mirror. That is where the real secrets are. Inside. Behind. That’s where the gods dream, where our realities are born.
Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all.
 I have been lucky to meet you and privileged to teach you. Now, go and rule your world.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

BARNACLE BOYS, POWER RANGERS, HANCOCK: What's so hard about poetry???

Congratulations, friends! You have just mastered 12 short poems from the Romantic era. The Romantics are still considered by many to be the most popular British poets of all time. Of course, it takes some work to conquer the style, and I have been impressed at how hard you have all worked to see what I see in "Ode to the West Wind" or "Endymion." Using the mystery sheet to practice using your poetry tools helped, I hope. What was your favorite poem? Which of the Romantics "spoke" to you? Was it the subject or the message? Which of the poet's tools was your ticket into understanding the poem? (Did you recognize the metaphor and identify with it? Or did the meter sound like a song and you found yourself remembering the phrases? etc etc)
Your mission for this blog is to decide on your favorite Romantic poem, rate it on a five-star scale, and then write 250 words explaining to your classmates why it was your favorite. The more specific your reasons, the stronger your comment.  My favorite?  Byron's "She Walks in Beauty,"of course. (see the sidebar at right)
You need to post a comment by 24 April 2010. Grammar and  mechanics count. Proofread, please. source of Anne Beatrix Horton image: She walked in beauty

Monday, February 8, 2010


I read Study Hacks, a blog by a (now graduated) college student who strategized his college career more efficiently than I certainly did. I wish I had his advice then........... your mission? respond to this post with your own "scatter shot" attack to the really tough stuff. How do you get it done? I need to know by March 5, 2010.
 from Study Hacks..................

The Scatter Shot Attack
As I explained in my original post on hard focus, learning to concentrate when you don’t want to is a practiced art. A lot of students, however, are so turned off by hard work that they can’t even muster the small blocks of hard focus needed to start building toward something more substantial.

I have a time-tested solution to this issue. I call it the scatter shot attack because it’s comprised of a large number of small tactics — not one magic bullet.

For example, here was my advice to Ron:

* Use Your Autopilot: Make sure your dreaded work is tackled within a trusted autopilot schedule. Having to decide each week when to do this work is an extra hurdle that you want to avoid.
* Use Location: Identify a unique isolated location for each type of dreaded work. When in that location all you’re allowed to do is work. Absolutely no Internet will be tolerated. If you want to go online, or otherwise change mental gears, you have to physically leave the location. No exceptions.
* Be Reasonable: Make sure that you’re scheduling more than enough time for each dreaded task. If your schedule is unreasonably tight your mind will recognize this reality and summon intense resistance.
* Embrace Specificity: Throw out your vague plans to “do reading” or “work on a problem set.” If you want your mind to cooperate, you need to reduce your work to a set of unambiguous and specific actions that will clearly fit into the time set aside.
* (Wo)Man Up: Finally, you need to recognize that throughout life you’re going to have to do work that you don’t want to do. This is perhaps the defining trait of being an adult. College is as good a time as any to recognize this fact, man up (or woman up, as the case may be), and just do it, even if you don’t want to. You’re not sixteen and living at home anymore…

Thursday, February 4, 2010

BARNACLE BOYS: Essay on Dramatic Poesy

“I admire him (Jonson), but I love Shakespeare.”

That is how Mr. Dryden ends this excerpt from his “Essay on Dramatic Poesy.” I, of course, am ecstatic that he gives Shakespeare his props. Ben Jonson is indeed one of the giants in English literature, but Shakespeare was the writer I read that convinced me that we are all connected, that a man writing 400 years ago could still understand exactly what a 15-year-old girl was feeling and explain it so that the words jumped off the page and into my heart. I have a feeling that some of you may not feel the same rapture when you read "Sonnet 18" that I did, though, so I would like you to think for a moment of a writer you do appreciate. Why do you love him/her? What criteria would you use to judge your favorite writer against Shakespeare—and have your choice win? Tell us all who would fill in this blank: I admire Shakespeare, but I love ____________________.” Then explain why. Post your masterpiece by 9 February 2010 here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SURVIVOR: SCOTLAND! Barnacle Boys, Hancock, Power Rangers ONLY

We have finished reading Macbeth! Would it surprise you to know that all Elizabethans loved the gory battles and the REAL sheep's blood used on the stage? In fact, there is some evidence that even Queen Elizabeth herself enjoyed a good hanging in the public square or bloody battle on stage as much as anyone--a trait which endeared her to the English people. My question is this: would Shakespeare think our love of slasher movies and explicit war films was tame? What customs of ours would seem strange to the Elizabethans? Think about our movies, books, TV, and music, and Shakespeare's reaction to them. Would he love it or hate it? Would Jersey Shore or Die Hard, for example, shock him or delight him? How would you script Macbeth as a Survivor: Scotland? I want to hear your ideas on how Shakespeare would operate in a digital world. The more specific your plans, the better. Your post is due January 8, 2010. Watch your mechanics!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Well, it is time for the Gang of Five to wax eloquent on a topic of my choosing. I mentioned several times during first quarter that what we are reading in World Lit is "stuff" you need to know. How Gilgamesh saw himself as a king, how Socrates sought to teach Glaucon about knowledge, how Pushkin turned a cliched perception about autumn on its ear, how each of these writers revealed themselves as they wrote--all these examples can only add to your personal life database. Is life all about adapting, about making choices? And how do you make good choices without information? You don't. Hence World Lit and the opportunity to add to the hard drive called your brain.
So.....I recently came across a list of "things you need to know" on a teacher's blog.(See here. Read it. No need to read the comments unless you find  them interesting.) It occurred to me that though the list seemed like a useful one to me, also a teacher, you might not have the same reaction. Is your education providing you with the tools you need? I'd like to hear which items on this list are indeed essential for you and your peers as you assume leadership of your future. More importantly, what items do you think may be missing from the list? I would like a short discussion of those ideas you like along with a description of what may be missing from this article (and your education). Aim for 250-300 words, and I will not complain if you write more. Make sure to see what the others are thinking--it may inform your choices for the list. Your entry should be posted no later than November 25, 2009. Humble me!