There's a rhythm to posting every day.
I have forgotten it somewhat.
Working on getting back to it.
Can we talk about Sue Hanna for a minute? She was a teacher who changed lives. Taking her poetry class, freshman year, pretty much convinced me that my life would be dedicated to [fill in some blank here] and the only way to achieve that was to be an English Major. (English Majors: are they people who write? Read? Opt out of the studio art degrees they were supposedly going to school for -- or was that just me?)
Back to Ms. Hanna (she was the only professor at our school, in 1977, that insisted on that prefix; ahead of her time, always. But she'd have winced at me saying that -- she hated cliches). She read poetry. Loudly, somewhat. She insisted we read it that way, too. Maybe not loud but like we were invested in it and not just mildly considering it: we needed to feel the words come out of our mouths. We needed to be able to hear the poet.
Who cares if anyone in the dorm thinks this is odd? she'd have said. This is the way you read poetry. My roommate told me, some time into that first semester, that I was reciting poetry in my sleep. (She wasn't super-thrilled.) That still embarrasses me a little, but not for the reason you'd expect. I wasn't reading it aloud, in the dorm, as much as Ms. Hanna insisted, and I supposed then that my conscience got the best of me and poked through even the shroud of sleep. And it was impossible to remember what I'd been reciting.
Because of Sue Hanna, the Harlem Renaissance and Pauline Kael and Rupert Brooke became, a little or a lot, guiding forces in my life. Because of Sue Hanna, I am on guard always but not often enough for some clanking metaphor or niggling cliche. Most of all, because of Sue Hanna, I will never see words without realizing that they can be employed in a way that could change a life (or many lives, as hers did). So many words, so often thrown around -- and yet, with care, what good they can do if well-employed.
Thanks. Some teachers deserve to be remembered. It bothers me that she might not have known how grateful I was for her teaching. If you still have time, maybe you can go thank someone who changed your life. Thanks, Ms. Hanna. Somewhere, I hope, you hear this. Aloud.
update: the 'make-something-everyday' project continues ... but, as mentioned in the weekend update post, i won't be publishing every little thing each day. sometimes, yes. and there may be an end-of-the-month roundup. we'll see how how it goes. for now:
Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife/Through the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run-
or something like that.
"The chief art of learning, as Locke has observed, is to attempt but little at a time.
The widest excursions of the mind are made by short flights frequently repeated; the most lofty fabrics of science are formed by the continued accumulation of single propositions."
- Samuel Johnson
Labels: samuel johnson