Some Random Thoughts…
Last February, I found a copy of my seventh grade reading book (Remember back when Reading and English were still different subjects?) in the for-sale aisle at the library. It remains my best find at that library to date. I absolutely love finding old textbooks, especially literature ones. I think it’s because rereading them confirms just how good my memory really is. Someday I’m going to try to find my sixth and eighth grade reading books on eBay or Amazon.
Something I love about poems – and to a lesser extent, books – is that you can have completely different reactions to them depending on the time of your life when you read them. (Of course this isn’t true in all cases. An English professor once told me that I would appreciate The Great Gatsby if I reread when I was older. Whatever.) I read Oranges, by Gary Soto, for school when I was 12, didn’t like it, and forgot about it. I remembered it a few days ago during breakfast. The school serves breakfast at 7:30, when it’s still dark outside, and an orange usually comes with it. One morning the poem’s final lines suddenly came back to me.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.
I think it would be really awesome to have a sound effects machine. This occurred to me the other day when I was reciting The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. (I’m trying to memorize long poems; right now I’m working on Paul Revere (Longfellow), The Brooke (Tennyson, or “Tennis, anyone?” as Dad called him), and The Love Song of JAP (Eliot). I know I’ll never fully memorize that last one, but I’m giving it a try anyway. This is turning out to be a very long parenthetical break.) Anyway, it occurred to me how cool it would be to do a reading of Paul Revere with sound effects in the background – soldiers marching, wind blowing, horse hoofbeats, dogs barking, roosters crowing, gunshots, etc.
Today I taught my students the words advantage and disadvantage, pro and con. To help them remember I told them the joke, “If con is the opposite of pro, does that mean Congress is the opposite of progress?” They actually got it.