Thursday, March 4, 2010

So, Winter's Tale readers: let us now face the facts. Most of you aren't reading anymore. And I'm sure you all have many reasons for slowing down and losing interest. Shakespeare is difficult. Daily life is distracting. I may feel sad about this, but I'm not surprised. In fact, what really surprises me is not so much the people that have stopped reading but the people who have persevered. So now I'm going to tell you a bit about the two who have managed to hold on to this task. They may not be the kind of people you would have expected to cling to the project.

First, let me tell you about Ruth. I met her last summer at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. But she isn't a high school English teacher: she teaches fifth grade, and has taught elementary school for many, many years. Ruth is old enough to retire, but it's hard to imagine that she's ready to do so. She is one of the most excited and committed teachers I've ever met; and she does funny things, like invite bikers to her classroom and then ride off with them on a motorcycle as a way to open her students' eyes to the varieties of interesting people in this world. Ruth is also a singer, with an otherworldly voice reminiscent of Sacred Harp singers or the Carter Family. As a reader, her intensity and curiosity is infectious: she is so eager to be infatuated with words. Her students must love her.

And now let me tell you about Paul. Paul is my 12-year-old son. He is a 6th grader at Harmony Elementary School and loves history and fantasy novels and sports and playing keyboard in a rock band. You might think that, since he's my son, I must have browbeat him into keeping up with this project. But no: in addition to his other devotions, he loves Shakespeare. We frequently watch DVDs of various plays, and he is always excited by them. Meanwhile, my other son could care less. Reading A Winter's Tale has thrilled Paul. On weekends, he's liable to stick his head around a corner and say to me in a come-hither voice, "Time for Shakespeare?" It is an honor to be his mother.

Ruth and Paul have never met each other. But they've been the backbone of this conversation about Shakespeare, and I think that's an accomplishment.

Now on to another subject (sort of): here's a link to Scott Hill's blog, where he sweetly mentions my rereading memoir in the course of writing his own brief rereading memoir about George Eliot. I think that Scott ran out of time to keep up with A Winter's Tale because he was too busy keeping up with A Mill on the Floss. I would be the last person to complain about such a distraction.


Ruth said...

Dawn, How very dear of you and thank you for the compliments. I am loving this project as I haven't read nearly as much Shakespeare as I suspect Paul has! It is opening new windows to me. I hope we tiny group will not abandon Winter's Tale. The Frost conference was the best experience ever!!
We are on to Introduction to Chemistry, can't wait to dress up as an element!

Dawn Potter said...


Hi Dawn,

I want you to know that I am still reading the play and enjoying the things that others write about it. I love reading Paul's comments. I have written lots of things about it that I just haven't been able to send because it seems silly or incomplete or whatever. I am not all that great at writing down my thoughts but I am still at it. I get a great deal of pleasure in sitting in Tim Horton's on Tuesdays, while I am waiting for Helen, with my tea and my little blue Shakespeare book.

I was surprised that Hermione died and somehow that affected me more than the death of her son. The guys getting eaten by the bear was really kind of bizarre and I intend to read that part of the play again because I really feel like I missed something.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of it and seeing what the others in our little group think about it.

Dawn Potter said...

Ruth--Once I led a class workshop on incorporating science into poetry. We had the elements in simple compounds, such as CO2, function as speaking characters. Oxygen was twice as bossy, of course.

Mr. Hill said...

Awesome, I get a pass! whew!

Al and Adam said...

We're still here!!

Conor and I caught up last night (before I even saw this post) and will be posting something today about our last installment.


Dawn Potter said...


Lucy Barber said...

I thought of the whole endeavor tonight and wondered what I had missed, so I am going to catch up this weekend. My excuses would be so boringly Washington DC that I can't even write them down for fear of taking them seriously again, when I have promised myself a weekend off.