Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Which female literary character are you?!

Which Classic Female Literary Character Are you?

You're Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen!
Take this quiz!

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Student voices

I spent a couple of days last week getting paid for listening to kids talk- a pretty nice way to earn some extra money, if you ask me. At my school, the year 12 students present their English orals to an external assessor (ie, me, since I'm on study leave) and a small group of their classmates, rather than during class time. It takes about a week to get through them all because they are allocated a time during one of their free periods so they don't miss any classes. I'm sharing the marking load with S, who is a brilliant retired English and lit teacher. We marked together on the first day (I was only supposed to stay an hour or so in the morning for crossmarking purposes, but we were enjoying working together so I ended up staying for most of the day) and now we are alternating days until we get through them all by the end of this week. The 'system' works pretty well, although it pales in comparison to the organisation that would be needed to get through them all in one Saturday, like Jo did. But I don't think that would work for us- we would probably need to run some bus services to get all the students into school, because they come from miles around.
Anyway, I love doing the orals. I miss out on teaching this group in their final year since I am on leave this semester, so it's nice to be involved in their last year of English, albeit in a small way. They blow me away- they do an amazing job in their presentations and I can't help smiling and nodding at them the whole time, but most impressive is the way that they (without exception) support each other as audience members. So, yes, I'm enjoying myself, although I will admit to feeling a little over hearing about the dangers/potentials of nuclear energy and the growing obesity epidemic in young Australians. But that's ok- there's enough variety because they can talk about a current issue of their choice or develop a topic relating to one of the set texts (I got to see an impressive dramatic monologue based on a character in Rayson's Inheritance the other day).
I haven't yet spent much time thinking about the return to school next semester- busy stressing over my masters- but I am starting to allow small seeds of excitement to germinate. I'm feeling very happy about my load- as long as I got my wonderful year 11 lit kids back I was going to be thrilled- but year 10 lit has been a somewhat unexpected bonus, and the teasing possibility of some hours in the library delivering the wider reading program to year 7s and 8s (depending on the final shape that the timetable settles in) is like the rainbow sprinkles on a decadent chocolate cake.

... I was wondering this morning what a reader who doesn't know me would make of this hodgepodge of a blog- this somewhat bizarre concoction of discordant notes that even I don't know what to make of. I lurch from one entry and/or pseudo genre to the next with no explanations, noticeable development or direction. I think I've shifted at some point or other from being preoccupied with the thought of an audience and who/what it consisted of to just letting this blog extend into whatever direction it wants to. Oh well. That's probably a good thing (or at least an interesting thing). I think that I do need to work on making these entries more 'bloggish' though, in terms of being hyperlinked and thus connected and multi-dimensional. Hypertext was one of the elements that most appealed to me about blogging to begin with, but it has slipped off my radar screen of late. Hmmm...

Monday, May 22, 2006


I tried to speak in your tongue but

My mother tongue is Maeve Binchy novels and ginger fluff sponge, early morning dreamings on the back step, porcelain owls and zygo cacti

My father tongue is quartz and sandstone, toy planes fashioned from beer cans and a Stanley knife, framed photos of black and white beaches

I hear your words and I want them, desperately, but when I try to catch them and pop them in my mouth they splinter and I bleed

So it must be best to leave them in the air

Drifting past my closed lips

Your words are a tapestry; precise and intricate on the surface but turn it over and you can see the garbled mess of knots and listless strands of surplus thread…
So you frame it and nail it to the wall above the striped couch and that’s that- the Symbolic hides the semiotic.

Which should be comforting but it’s not

The semiotic is where my nan has retreated since that imp named Alzheimer’s perched on her shoulders, supping on her memories with a silver spoon. It is the ‘how tos’ and the ‘what fors’ he has crunched and slurped with particular relish- he is saving the precious faces, loving voices and faded wedding photos for last

I hope

some days that he will keep jabbing with his spoon for the chink of useless phone numbers and the clink of scone recipes (as though hunting for glinting pence in the Christmas pudding)

other days I pray that he will hurry up and finish his meal so that she can finally lose herself and return to the (M)other where it is warm and safe

these words were not supposed to arrive here

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Poetry is not a luxury

The quality of light by which we scrutinise our lives has direct bearing upon the product which we live, and upon the changes which we hope to bring about through those lives. It is within this light that we form those ideas by which we pursue our magic and make it realised. This is poetry as illumination, for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are- until the poem- nameless and formless, about to be birthed, but already felt. That distillation of experience from which true poetry springs births thought as dream births concept, as feeling births idea, as knowledge births (precedes) understanding...
At this point in time, I believe that women carry within ourselves the possibility for fusion of these two approaches so necessary for survival, and we come closest to this combination in our poetry. I speak here of poetry as a revelatory distillation of experience, not the sterile word play that, too often, the white fathers distorted the word poetry to mean- in order to cover a desperate wish for imagination without insight.
For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

-Audre Lorde