Sunday, February 26, 2012

I woke up in the middle of the night with a roiling brainful of ideas about classes I could teach, but the only one I remember clearly this morning is the class I called "Growing Up," which I imagined might include a variety of poems, novels, and essays . .  possibly Elizabeth Bowen's Death of the Heart, James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, Joan Didion's essay about migraines, Whitman's Paumanok, etc., etc., etc. It seemed like such a great class in my semi-waking state. I could hardly wait to get up and figure out the syllabus.

I do have a big teaching gig coming up next weekend, but it will be all poetry all the time, so no chance to experiment with long books. The weekend will be interesting, no doubt, but I always fret over how little time I ever have to get kids to read. It's a primary downside of being an itinerant teacher . . . that, and never getting to develop a long, slow relationship with my students. Of course there are advantages to itineracy as well: because I see so many different kinds of schools and teachers, I have a fairly detailed idea of what works and doesn't work in various settings, as well as an odd and possibly unwholesome view of departmental joys and despairs.

In the meantime I am beginning to do pre-production work on Same Old Story--that is, tinkering with a few poems, submitting sheaves of support copy, and, with a familiar sense of groaning embarrassment, wondering what the hell I should do about cover blurbs. In the meantime I am writing a couple of paragraphs about Virginia Woolf, and grocery-shopping for lemons and limes, and vacuuming the stairs, and helping J paint his room, and helping T write an artist's statement, and helping P remember to brush his teeth. And yesterday, finally, I began writing a poem about Henry Clay Frick. What a strange sensation it is to try to fit that man into verse.

P.S. Chicken curry. For those of you with an old stewing hen on your hands, I recommend it, especially if you also enjoy inventing and grinding your own curry powder.

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