27 October 2006

Guess the book (I can never play by the rules even when I try....)

Dorothy did this meme today & since I had just finished cataloging my newly acquired books into LibraryThing and they were sitting nearby the keyboard, I had to do this. And I hated the results on page 123, but here they are. But, you'll have to guess the poem rather than the book (at least without any hints, but I've got that challenge for you too further down the post).

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line

Yeah, pretty easy and you could probably google it if you didn't know. But since this could be in any one of several anthologies, your challenge is to figure out what book it is in. Here are your clues regarding the book this appeared in.

1. American female poet who often writes about nature and spirituality.
2. Book is on craft, is not strictly an anthology, and its title is derived from a famous line by Pope.
3. Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of her favorites.
4. She gave a lecture this evening in city where I live.
5. Neither of the other two volumes I bought have 123 pages, so I added page total of 2nd book to 3rd book to find the page (e.g., 123-109=page 14) to get this from one of her own poems:

I see it still;
and there was once, oh wonderful,
a new horse in the pasture,
a tall, slim being -- a neighbor was keeping her there --

Make your guesses Friday. I'll want to post my answer soon, as well as writing about the reading!

24 October 2006

One School's Reading Blog Project

I came across a link to The Guerrilla Season Book Blog a few weeks ago & put it in Bloglines so I wouldn't forget about it when the project started (10/23). It is a project at South Valley Jr. High, in Liberty Missouri. 300 8th grade students will read the book The Guerrilla Season by Pat Hughes and will participate in discussions via the blog. The book is about the Civil War in Missouri, so there is a local connection as well. In addition to posting questions regarding each assigned reading, the blog moderators will also have the author participate.

I think this is such an innovative idea for teaching both reading and history. I like the variation on the One City/One Book idea (everyone reading the same book) and I think that the participative nature of the blog is a great way to get kids to connect with a work. There are schools in California and Louisiana participating too. I will not be able to read this book at this time, but I intend to check in on the blog from time to time to see how the project is going.

09 October 2006

Current reading....

Although I haven't been doing much blogging for the last week or so, I have been reading. I'm making steady progress through Willa Cather's My Antonia. It was my reading group's pick this month. Although we already met to discuss it, I still intend on finishing it.

At the same time, I'm reading Marilynne Robinson's Gilead for another book discussion group. I have about 80 pages left before tomorrow's discussion, so I hope I get it finished.

Although it is coincidental that I'm reading these two books at the same time, I'm enjoying that the locale for both is the Great Plains. It's interesting to see how each writer describes the land.

Gilead captured my attention in the first few sentences. Here is an excerpt from the first paragraph, as the aging and dying narrator begins drafting a letter to his young son to be read when he reaches adulthood:

You reached up and put your fingers on my lips and gave me that look I never in my life saw on any other face besides your mother's. It's a kind of furious pride, very passionate and stern. I'm always a little surprised to find my eyebrows unsinged after I've suffered one of those looks. I will miss them.

What gorgeous writing! I'm sure I'll have a lot to say about this after I've finished reading. Now, a little more than 1/2 through the book I'm perplexed as to why Robinson set it in 1956. Other than the easy ability for the narrator to write about his grandfather and the Civil War, setting the book in the mid-50's doesn't seem necessary. However, maybe there is something in the plot yet to be revealed that would only work in the 1950's. Another thing that I like about the book is that while the letter is often prosaic, there is a quality that indicates that it was written by an old person, especially when the narrator seemingly repeats things.

Poetry and Technology

I don't usually connect my work life and my reading/blogging life. In fact, few people I know professionally know that I blog -- and I want to keep it that way! But, I do tend to gravitate towards readers and I will miss the readers with whom I had interesting lunchtime discussions at my last job. Sometimes, I have people comment that they think that technology (my work life) seems so different than my reading and writing interests. I don't think that the two are mutually exclusive, but I'm frequently frustrated with my inability to adequately explain how they are complementary.

Here are two different postings I came across recently that deal with the intersection of poetry and technology:

First, Frank Wilson at Books, Inc. linked to this article about the Poetry at Tech program at Georgia Tech. Those engineers realize that there is more to poetry than their rhyming fight song: "I'm a rambling wreck from Georgia Tech...".

In the article, Georgia Tech President Wayne Clough is quoted:

"The pursuit of science and technology is just as creative a process as poetry and the arts," Clough says. "Both require intensely creative people who can think outside the box, look at the same things everyone else sees and imagine something more, and put the pieces together in new ways."

The Director of the Poetry at Tech program, poet Thomas Lux is quoted:
"Poems are made things. They have everything to do with intense emotions ... but poems are made things. They don't just happen."

Follow the link to read the article. Lux makes some interesting comments regarding hip-hop and poetry slams. Registration is required, but it's free.

At Robert Peake's blog, Peake makes a comparison between programming and poetry:
What poems and code have in common is compactness...Both require precision, and poetry usually also involves some degree of linguistic compactness....Subtlety, clarity, and intimacy with the language are all required traits that get amplified through the power of each discipline.

Be sure to check out the comments on Robert's post as well. I'm not sure that I agree with his correlation of poets and programming language, but, while I am a technologist, I'm not a programmer. I'll be checking his blog for future posts for more data.

Sometimes I just hate Blogger!!!!

I just spent over an hour writing a long post, covering three or four different ideas I've been meaning to write about this week but hadn't the time. Went to spellcheck before posting and I lost the entire post! It reverted to an earlier save. Damn it! All that work gone -- and probably for good. Maybe I'll post again on some of the items, but it will be impossible to recreate exactly what I had.