Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lunacy, alright

Aaaah. I'm so, so proud to be part of the loony fringe. Aren't we all? It's funny though, when you think of how many of us there actually are. Not so much a fringe as a full blown freakin' mullet, I'd say.

Hmmm.... I wonder if anyone has told The Australian... Any volunteers?

Great, thanks. While you're at it, you might want to give the editorial staff a bit of helpful advice about editorial style.

'This is an editorial?' my students would ask, wrinkling noses. 'This is the 'voice' that this paper wants to project?'

'Nuff said.

Except this: David Freesmith's thoughtful argument stands strong against this, this and this. Talk about a multi-pronged attack... Except for the fact that they all say the same thing (and I don't just mean echoing each other's sentiments- seriously, Kenneth's Wiltshire meandering sludge splodges its way through three separate articles- impressive. Or something.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

-Elizabeth Bishop, One Art

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Writing, etc.

I'm giving a lecture to 'English Education' pre-service teachers at Monash Uni on Tuesday. I've been thinking about it for weeks and I have all this 'stuff' that I want to talk about... my year 11 Lit students' hypertexts... a recording of a rap song that a group of my year 10 boys wrote... my 10 Lit students' discussion board.. my own 'teacher writing'... but I'm currently lacking the vision of how to put it all together.

I know what I would like it to be. I would like it to take the form of a kind of 'performative narrative', which is how I found myself describing my Year 11 Lit students' poetry presentations just over a week ago. They had worked in pairs to construct hypertext versions of poems from Blake's Songs, and then presented their work to the rest of the class. I was excited by the form that these presentations took. The non-linear hypertexts meant that the students were not bound/constrained by successive powerpoint slides flicking across the screen. The presentations became conversational, informal, directed by student voices as they used their hypertexts to build their discussions and readings of the poems. They made spontaneous connections to past class discussions and other student presentations. The presentations became part of the 'meaning making' process, rather than a 'report' or 'record' of this process. The presentations did not feel 'end-stopped', to use a poetic term, but meandered into each other, and past each other, and back to alternative beginnings. In many ways, the hypertext writing that my students produced stood on its own, but it was brought to life by my students' voices, and not just the voices of students who were presenting.

This was the first time that I had attempted something like this with students, and it was a rich experience, even though there is so much that I would do differently next time.

Anyway, that is what I want this 'lecture' to be like. A performative, hypertext narrative, that could go in different directions. I've had a go at constructing a hypertext to reflect on my teaching experiences before. I'd like to try something like this again, and turn it into a 'lecture' or 'perform' it. Of course, I also want it to be participatory, and I'm going to have to think of ways to do that. But this is the sort of writing that I want to keep exploring this kind of writing, on my own, and with my students.

Whenever I am poised to create something new, to 'teach' something, to 'write' something, to 'produce' something for 'others', I often find myself looking for ways to use it as an opportunity to explore my current preoccupations and interests. I'm not just thinking of my 'audience' even when it's my students. Is this wrong?


I'm not sure.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Media musings

Some interesting media bites to munch on this week.

Somewhat eerily, this opinion piece (What the PM owes to Hansonism) appeared a couple of days after a colleague and I had been bemoaning this very 'phenomenon'. I can remember listening to Hanson's harsh consonants on the radio and feeling sick and so ashamed. I can remember asking Mum as we drove to my high school in Dandenong, 'what will other countries think of us? This isn't what we're supposed to be'.

Now, Hanson tangos in orange sparkles across the telly, Oldfield plays Robinson Crusoe on Celebrity Survivor, and Howard channels Pauline's old speeches.

And now follows the cringe-worthy witch hunt of Professor Greer. I intended to write more about this but have since discovered that Tracy Hutchison (as well as a couple of intelligent letter writers) have it covered. Yeah sure, the timing is not good, but I relished seeing her swat away the extraordinarily outraged condemnations of the channel nine (??) reporter during her interview as though he was a pesky fly. How does a media report of a tragic death turn into a hysterical and prolonged attack on one of the defining minds of the 2oth century? I mean honestly, we've annointed a new Australian Saint (move over, Mary McKillop) and ousted the new 'Aussie Devil' in one fell swoop (oh, but remember, Greer's an expat now, so we can just let the Poms have her).

I was lucky enough to hear Germaine Greer speak a couple of years ago and she was completely captivating. So funny, wise, gracious and brilliant. A voice of dissent, certainly.

How shameful it is when voices like these are turned into soundbites by the media, so you can no longer hear the symphony.

Friday, September 01, 2006

A confession...

I plant poetry
beneath eucalypts.