Passion Project

I recorded a podcast yesterday with some adult learners. This is the second time I’ve been on a podcast, and I have to admit, I find it both excellent and weird. We recorded in what I think of as the “bootleg” way — recording a zoom call, no special microphones or anything. I liked doing the recording on zoom because then we could all see each other, which I think was really helpful for making everyone feel comfortable yesterday. It also helped that the man whose podcast we were recording has been doing this for more than a year and is at ease and adept at the technical and logistic things.

I’m on the board of an organization that focuses on women’s literacy education. We produce a journal of student writing every year, and our 2022 issue will come out this week. The podcast is about the journal, and we invited three adult learners who are in this year’s journal to read and talk about their work. One of those women is far along in her journey and is now on the advisory committee of the organization. We also invited another board member, our organization’s secretary, to be in the podcast because she joined the board when she was in an adult education program, and a piece she wrote several years ago has been used every year since as the introduction of the journal.

I don’t ever need reminders of why I do the work I do. Even on my worst, most exhausted, most frustrating days, I love my work. I am always clear about why I’m in this field, why it’s important to me.

Reminders aren’t necessary, but they’re lovely all the same. I don’t get to spend time with students in my day-to-day (something I want to figure out ways to change as we start to come back to in-person programming), and that’s definitely part of what made yesterday’s recording session so special. I hear about students often. Yesterday I got to hear directly from them.

So, yes: even though I don’t need reminders of my purpose, moments like yesterday are a pure delight. It was so wonderful to listen to the women read their work and to talk with them about their writing. I’d spent some time on the phone with two of the women on Friday night, helping to prepare them for the recording. We hadn’t met before those calls, but by the end of our conversations, I was completely in love with both of them. One woman was immediately comfortable with me, and by the time we hung up, I felt as if I’d known her for years.

I just sent the recording to the learners, and I can’t wait to hear their reactions. I loved it, and I hope they’ll be as pleased as I am. I’m kind of holding my breath in anticipation of final approval from each of them so the episode can be released on Wednesday. I can’t wait!


It’s the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!

Original Slicer - GirlGriot

There’s no good in our goodbye.

… except that there kind of is. Looking at the calendar and realizing that April is on her way out allowed me a sigh of relief. I can soon part ways with prose poetry. I’ve written a few things this month that I don’t mind. A couple of things I actually like. Overall, however, this has been a hard slog, and I won’t be sad to see the back of it. It’s not over yet, however. Time to get to work.

Swagger

I am having a moment. Feeling myself. Standing a little taller. Taking up all the space I need, not shying away when the fact of me makes others uncomfortable. I can’t pinpoint a change. It snuck up on me, this audacity, this bien-dans-ma-peau, this ease sweetened with a touch of arrogance. Who am I? And where did I come from? And where have I been all my life?


As I did last year, I’ll be following along with the Poem-A-Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. Today’s prompt is a fun one:

Take a word or two invented by William Shakespeare, make it the title of your poem, and write your poem. Check out this list of possibles to choose from. Shakespeare was baptized on this date in 1564. Here are a few to get you thinking: advertising, bloodstained, critic, dwindle, eyeball, hobnob, luggage, radiance, and zany. He invented more than 1,700!

You can post your daily poems on Brewer’s page. The top poem from each day will be included in an anthology later this year!

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Are you writing poems this month? Where can I see them?
Let’s share this craziness!

A Willow Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I saw them again! The lovely mother and daughter from my Cat in the Hat post the other day! We were on the bus again, heading downtown. This time, the mom was doing the reading.  Her daughter was curled up against her, listening intently.  Mom was reading The Wind in the Willows. Put a smile on my face that she had chosen a classic.

The bigger smile on my face came from watching and listening to the way the mom read the story — thinking out loud after she read certain lines so that her daughter could see the way she thought about what she was reading, pausing and asking her daughter to predict what might happen next, etc.  I love how invested the mom clearly is in her daughter’s literacy, how patiently she waited for her daughter’s answers and talked through them with her, how cute they looked snuggled up together on the bus seat, deep in their story, deep in that book.

They made my morning.  And I wonder what I’ll get to hear them read next time!

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Check out all of the slices on Two Writing Teachers!

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“How I wish we had something to do.”

My bus was super crowded this morning, and I was squeezed in the center aisle, standing all the way downtown. So much for reading on my way to work. I didn’t even have room to maneuver my bag and get my headphones out so I could listen too some music.

Good thing. Left my ears open for some conversation:

“I have always been someone who knows what they want,” asserted forcefully by a beautiful girl who was maybe 17.  “I always say what I want.  I’m not confused.  I’m complex.”

“Listen,” from a stern-voiced woman to her 9- or 10-year-old son, “you want me to change colors right now?* No? Then sit still and keep quiet.”

“Driver, you were supposed to tell me when we got to Flatbush.

“I will.”

“You were supposed to tell me.  I asked when I got on.”

“I will tell you.”

“Driver –“

“We haven’t gotten there yet.”

“Thank you, driver.  I still need you to tell me when we get to Flatbush.”

And then the best of all:

Seated near me was a little girl who was focused quite intently on a book. She was tracing across the page with her index finger, going over each page at least twice before moving to the next. I couldn’t see what she was reading because it was down in her lap. She was maybe six years old, so I was pretty sure  she wasn’t working through War and Peace, but I was curious.

Then her mom leaned over and asked her to read aloud. “I like hearing how nicely you read,” she said.  (And yes, how much do I love her for saying that?)

The little girl smiled and squinched up her face, concentrating.  She turned the pages back to the beginning and started reading.  I couldn’t hear her at first, but after a few lines, she felt more comfortable.  She lifted her chin and read out, not loud but strong.  And then I heard it, knew what she was reading.

“How I wish we had something to do.”

I’d know that line anywhere: The Cat in the Hat!

“Too wet to go out, and too cold to play ball,
So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all.”

I edged a little closer so I could listen in.  The little girl was wearing a Jayne hat** with an adorable, extra large and puffy pom-pom.  Her skin was such a beautiful deep, dark brown.  Her voice was quiet, happy.  Her face was serious as she focused on the words.  She sat up straight, but her mom leaned in a little closer, almost snuggling against her shoulder.

I will admit, I’m only a lukewarm fan of the Cat.  I find him a bit creepy.  More than a bit.  (He shouldn’t be trusted, not one little bit.)  And he triggers that thing I tried to describe yesterday.  The Cat is all about things that are just not right.  Too much Cat and I think my head might explode!

“No, no!  Make that cat go away!
Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play!
He should not be here! He should not be about!
He should not be here when your mother is out!”

Hmph.  Tell me that’s not right.  Don’t get me started on Thing 1 and Thing 2.

But my mistrust of the cat notwithstanding, I was utterly charmed by my bus ride reader.  And equally by her mother’s clear pleasure in listening to her baby display her new skill.  An excellent way to get my morning off and running.

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Eavesdrop on the rest of today’s slices at Two Writing Teachers!

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(“I saw her — your mother — your mother is here!”)

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*  I’ve never heard getting angry described in this way.  I kind of like it.  And I have to admit that, when I heard her say it, I really wanted to see her change colors.  That would have kept things lively on our commute!

**  Oh, that.  You know, a Jayne hat.  That was a Firefly reference.  The hat, as knit for and worn by Jayne: jayne_hat_4