30 Stories — 5

My 5th story is a bit of memory.  I’ve been trying to take more photographs lately, mostly doing this with my phone — yes, I am one of the army of rabid Instagrammers roaming the streets of your unsuspecting town.  Today I went to the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to attend a class on spinning yarn.  On the way in, I was hurrying to make the class on time, so I couldn’t stop, but I made a mental note to take a picture or two on my way out.  The main branch of the BPL, if you’ve never seen it, is kind of magnificent.  It was too crowded today for me to get any good wide shots of the building, so I went with an image of one small bit:

And taking the picture reminded me of a woman I once taught named Annabell.  I’ve written about her before and, given how often I think of her, will surely write about her again.  So here’s my #5 story (yes, as if all of this hasn’t already been part of the story …):


My Words Are Gold Now. That’s the title of a haiku chapbook written by a 74-year-old literacy student I worked with years ago. She started learning to read and write when she was in her late 60’s. When I introduced haiku to the class, she took most of the week to figure out the form. She went home for the weekend and came in Monday with a composition book full of haiku: 3 or 4 to a page, page after page, all of them wonderful, all of them both syllabically and stylistically correct. When she was asked to speak at the New York Bookbinders’ Guild, we made her a chapbook to sign and give out at the event.  I asked what she wanted to call the book, and she said, “I can write what I want now, all the things I think about, all the things I say.  My words are gold now.” As soon as she said it, we both smiled, knew we had the title.


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