Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reading is an act of resistance (but then you're reading this online, right?)

"Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction.... It requires us to pace ourselves. It returns us to a reckoning with time. In the midst of a book, we have no choice but to be patient, to take each thing in its moment, to let the narrative prevail. We regain the world by withdrawing from it just a little, by stepping back from the noise."

-David Ulin

Read the article in which this passage is quoted here in the Independent.

Monday, August 29, 2011

it's the poem of the week.

Last Trip to the Island

You're mad that I can't love the ocean,

but I've come to this world landlocked
and some bodies feel permanently strange.
Like any foreign language, study it too late and
it never sticks. Anyway,

we're here aren't we? —
trudging up the sand, the water churning
its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy

breathing made more unnerving by
the presence of all these families, the toddlers

with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
circus-colored gear.

How can anyone relax
near something so worked up all the time?

I know the ocean is glamorous,
but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels

impossible to resist. And what better reason to
resist? I'm most comfortable in

a field, a yellow-eared patch
of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
the underrated valor of discretion.

And above this, I admire a certain quality of
sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
an air of distance, that is, lightly,
with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean,

there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,

I can hear what's coming between the stalks.

Erin Belieu
Black Box
Copper Canyon Press

Friday, August 19, 2011

La Dolce Vita (opening sequence: Jesus flies over Rome)

Did the old man mention this film in class today? His connection between this sequence and the shots in Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet? Probably a stretch, but sometimes you have to humor the old man. Whether or not Luhrman was thinking Fellini, this clip is worth watching. Hope it makes you want to watch the whole film.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Poem of the week. By our new Poet Laureate.

What Work Is

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.

By Philip Levine

Monday, August 15, 2011

Scarlet Letter Chapter 5 Hester at Her Needle

Respond to the following questions with short (two or three sentences) answers:

How did Hester make her living? Explain. (extra: what was the one item she was never asked to work on? And why not?)

Where did she live?

How did children respond to her?

Describe what was likely to happen when Hester tried to go to church.

What seemingly extrasensory ability did Hester sometimes imagine she had gained with the scarlet letter? What might our writer be suggesting by describing this?

(Slightly longer response)

Hester’s condemnation did not require that she stay in the settlement. Why did she then stay? (The narrator offers more than one potential reason. Can you explain?

Scarlet Letter ch. 3-4 CRQs (critical reading questions)

AP English language and composition mcrawford

The Scarlet Letter Ch 3-4

In chapter 3, a stranger arrives in town on the very day that Hester stands upon the scaffold. What a coincidence! How is this stranger described? With whom has he apparently been traveling? Where has he been? How is he dressed? About what does he immediately ask?

On page 63, Hawthorne writes that the stranger “bowed courteously to the communicative townsman.” Why? About what has the townsman been so communicative? Is Hawthorne being playfully self-aware here? What narrative purpose has this communicative townsman served?

Who are these men sitting on the balcony during Hester’s time on the scaffold? Which speaks to her first? Describe what he says. How does he succeed in getting the younger man to address Hester?

Who is this younger minister? What is his name? Why do the others think he is the one who should speak to Hester? How is he described? What kind of appeal does he make to Hester? Contrast his tone with that used by the others that address Hester.

How does the “misshapen scholar” gain access to the jail?

In chapter 4, (on page 77) one reads, “Thou knowest that I was frank with thee. I felt no love, nor feigned any.” Who says this? To whom? Is this significant? Why?

Hester’s hunchbacked husband accepts that he is in part responsible for the course their lives have taken. Explain. (“We have wronged each other.” p. 78)

Why doesn’t he just renounce her and move on? Settle elsewhere?

What deal does Hester make with the man? She swears an oath? What does she swear to do or not do? What does she then, in the penultimate paragraph of the chapter, worry that she has done?