Q:When is too long?
I am the kind of person who says let’s wait and see.
She was in contact with her turmoil and with her ability to survive. How could that be anything less than emotional brilliance?
If you are in Australia this week, come say hello!
O the Eyes that will see me,
And the Mouth that will kiss me.
And the Rose I will stand on,
And the Hand that will turn me.
This will be in a Time of mirrors.
O the Tiger that will point me,
And the Light that will drown me.
And the Voice that will sing me,
And the God I will dethrone.
This is the Death I will stand on.
—Jose Garcia Villa
My Godmother Died Last Week
Today is her memorial service, and I wanted to share what she means to me.
I speak this poem tenderly
It being for you
for you only – We were not
afraid and we did take love
We had no fears.
We knew love, we knew it and
we were dancers for it
we were rivers, we were moonlight
and also we were winds
we were gods. And all this
is remembrance, and all this
But also it is love.
I Still Have Everything You Gave Me
It is dusty on the edges.
I guard it without thinking.
Focus on it once a year
when I shake it out in the wind.
I do not ache.
I would not trade.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
If you place a fern under a stone
the next day it will be
as if the stone has
If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
beneath your words.
No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.
—Naomi Shihab Nye
To me teaching is a really interesting activity…and it’s also one of the most precarious activities in the world, because it’s such a huge responsibility.
One of the first things I learned about teaching is that you have to respond to each student individually. You don’t start with any idea of what they should be doing, who they’re supposed to be, or what their performance level is, and you don’t compare them to one another. You simply start with each one of them wherever they are and develop the process from there.
…You have to develop their confidence and prove to them in their own performance that there isn’t anything they won’t be able to accomplish technically, eventually, given a lot of application, before you can begin to convince them that that kind of technical virtuosity doesn’t deserve the focus they have been led to believe it does by a performance-oriented culture.
Simultaneously, you want to be engendering a historical awareness, to help them to see that they begin in a specific time and place, in a historical context. You want them to understand that 90 percent of the things they take for granted are cultural solutions embedded in a history of such solutions: facts, but not necessarily truths. You want to give them a real historical awareness, not in terms of names and dates but rather in terms of a progression of ideas, leading to an understanding of why certain questions are now being asked by their contemporaries.
…All the time my ideal of teaching has been to argue with people on behalf of the idea that they are responsible for their own activities, that they are really, in a sense, the question, that ultimately they are what it is they have to contribute. The most critical part of that is for them to begin developing the ability to assign their own tasks and make their own criticism in direct relation to their own needs and not in light of some abstract criteria.
Because once you learn how to make your own assignments instead of relying on someone else, then you have learned the only thing you really need to get out of school, that is, you’ve learned how to learn. You’ve become your own teacher. After that you can stay on—for the facilities, the context, the dialogue, the colleagueship, the structure, and so forth—but you’ll already be on your own.
A Kind Message From My Friend, A Poet
I’ve been meaning to text you re: the writing you gave me. Thank you, Laurel. It’s strange to read—makes me feel like you remember (and re-member) other people’s lives so that they don’t have to. Or maybe they can’t—not all of it—not the full lengths. Or that the ocean exists for you—little neon gem, bioluminescent and glowing, even at the very bottom of it, even in the darkest dark. Take care—