29 October 2008

A Personal Blog is Art

A Personal Blog is Art, or so says Lani Geison of Blogging Personal.

The matter has been hotly debated, but I'll say that it's art, as well as practice, process, and personal expression. It's by nature a multi-media art, linking illustration and writing, or photography and poetry, or sound to text. (Has anyone experimented with sound? I'm waiting!) And that is why I'm so pleased with the results here with my Advanced Creative Writing students.

Recently I've been talking to a couple friends about how to publish their blogs. This is a strange concept because of course a blog is already published! The blogger command options are either "Save Now" or "Publish Post"--make it available for the whole wide world to see. But we're definitely in new territory, new territory brought about by our new age of Aquarian brotherhood and instant communication, courtesy of the cool technology. In this way, this semester we've created a community of published authors.

For the past two weeks, I've encountered a little techno-jam to the effect that sometimes my notes to students cannot be sent. Blogger Bleak Down. So I've gathered the wholly random notes and some links to help you all in exploring and getting a handle on each other's work.

To begin, in Reviving the Forgotten, Kally did something I wish everyone did more often. She opened a dictionary. Her post begins:

"The word prompt is defined as: "to move to action, to assist by suggesting or saying the next words of something forgotten or imperfectly learned." I find this Merriam Webster definition to be extremely relevant to the context within the poetry prompts. These are in fact exercises used to revive images stored in the memory, in order to complete a work."

Great points, I took it a step further and investigated the etymology of the word prompt. (Etymology is about all I use dictionaries for lately.) According to the Webster's New Universal here in the adjunct office, the roots range from "to incite" to "to distribute" -- both of which seem wonderfully relevant. For doesn't a prompt act to incite us to ideas, to writing? And isn't writing a sort of distribution--of mental materials and sparks?

Jezmarie, in her blog, First Timer...Be Gentle, has posed a crucial question re: description: This is truly the question of the class. I have a few ideas naturally, but I would love to see a few more responses from the rest of the class. (Okay: I would say that it's really important to slow down. Often, my first thought about a person or place is a cliche--and that is not helpful. So I need to think past the cliche and really look at the situation--the person, the problem. Also, I want to make sure I've got the senses included. The tangibles such as smell and taste and temperature along with physical description. Those help to guide me to a fuller, richer picture, which is what I'm trying to convey--desperately trying to get the images out from my mind into your mind--the magic process of imagination.)

That's enough for now, I suppose--though of course it isn't, it's never enough. I trust you are all reading Joyce and re-reading, too. Rereading is the only way to rejoice over Joyce....

22 October 2008

What Is True and Right for This Blog: A Question

As for myself, I'm delighted to be a blogger at last, like so many of my friends. However, I do feel a certain constraint in my position here, as the instructor in the creative writing class. Like someone might be looking to me for an answer. Or a question, a really good question.

In fact, these days most of the conversation in my in box and in my outbox has to do with politics. And politics, I've come to believe, is irrelevant and possibly deleterious to the job of instructing.

On the other hand, every half-wit poet knows to quote Williams on this topic....

“It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there."

(From William Carlos Williams’ Asphodel That Greeny Flower.)

So here's a question: 

Have you ever read a book, story or poem that saved your life?

03 October 2008

FOUND: PURPLE LUNCH BAG (improved, illustrated post)

Thanks to the eagle-eyes of your fellow student Scott Merrill, a purple lunch bag has been saved. It is waiting for its true owner on the center shelf at the adjunct office.

01 October 2008

Happening Upon James Joyce (and his project)

No virtue was involved in my choice to study James Joyce in college. I was eighteen years old, beginning my sophomore year in college, and I simply signed up for an upper level class that had for its texts just two books: James Joyce's Ulysses and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I didn't know James Joyce from Henry James from Joyce Carol Oates, but I thought that I could handle two books, even if they were big.

So, when I make an assignment that asks you to blog on the topic of James Joyce's project, it's not like I haven't learned a lot in the past decades. It's clear that he had many projects, and I thought that you students would alight upon whichever interested you most.

For myself, as I said in class, I begin with the belief that Dubliners is a pretty perfect work of fiction. But I quickly move to Ulysses, my first Joyce, and to the first notion I grasped: that the novel Ulysses, the story of one hapless Jewish cuckold wandering Dublin, hangs quite neatly on the Homeric epic The Odyssey. I was thrilled by the modernist interest in bringing the myths to bear in personal lives and works of art. No doubt I'd always felt that I was mythic. Perhaps Joyce did too. Or maybe he was just having a good time with all of us.