Monday, December 21, 2015

I had time

Appeared in the print journal ELBOW PADS in October 2013. Buy the whole issue here.

I had time

I had    time
play more songs
pack my bag
            to walk
just breathing   the rain

a white dress
checkered tights
crossed                        legs
cool drops

her blues
swallow them

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Using Six Word Memoirs As Icebreaker and Intro To The Writing Process

This appeared in the "What Works For Me" section of the academic journal Teaching English In The Two Year College in Fall 2010.

Six word memoirs, from the book Not Quite What I Was Planning by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser, and the website that inspired it, sum up, or condense, one’s life into a short, haiku or aphorism-like format. The shortness of the form necessitates cutting the ‘fluff’ out of sentences, even using fragments, to make every word count. The memoirs can range from one sentence to six, and from using commas and periods to no punctuation at all.
I make a handout of two pages from the book, and do a quick intro, showing them the book and talking briefly about what normal memoirs are. Each reads a memoir out loud, and immediately after does some free/fast writing on their reactions. Then, they write three six word memoirs of their own. In pre-assigned groups of three or four, they help each other decide which of their memoirs is the “best.” What I’m actually doing though is just getting them to know each other a little bit better, by interacting and sharing little bits of their lives. The more they bond, the better they’ll feel about coming to class, making for a better learning environment.
After ten minutes, I’ll bring the class back together, and have someone with good handwriting put the class name and section number at the top of a large poster-size piece of paper. Using markers, the students write their ‘best’ six word memoir down, with their names, and I post our memoirs somewhere public where they, and maybe more importantly others, can see their writing.
In forty-five minutes, my students have read models of a genre of writing, done some pre-writing, written drafts, done a bit of peer review, presented their writing to an audience, and built some class community: Everything I would want them to experience in a more traditional writing assignment! And yes, I always write a six word memoir too. Here’s one: started moving / couldn’t stop / kept going.

Works Cited
Smith Magazine. Magsmith, LLC. 2008. Web. 4 September 2009
Smith, Larry and Rachel Fershleiser. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. New York: Harper Perennial 2008. 
 The Six Word Memoirs website.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


"Academic" appeared in WRITING ON THE EDGE (WOE) in Spring 2009.

for Mary Soliday

In the first stanza of this poem, I will share examples of my thoughts on academic language, as well as how those thoughts correlate with each of the subsequent stanzas. In stanza two I reference this list of stanza descriptors in the first stanza, as well as look ahead to stanza three, where I review the first and second stanzas while at the same time showing how they scaffold on into the fourth and fifth (and final) stanzas. These fourth and fifth stanzas take a look back at my original ideas, from which my conclusions are based, and which return to the original thesis laid forth in this introductory stanza, as well as the “threads” or “links” (terms I will discuss more thoroughly later in the poem) in the middle stanzas.

In the first stanza I gave an overview of academic language and described the main ideas of each of the stanzas of the poem. In this stanza I will demonstrate and reflect on both the second and the fourth stanzas, previewing my intentions for the third stanza, where I build a case for the connection between the second stanza and the fourth stanza.

In the second stanza, I revealed my intention of reflecting on both this, the third, stanza, as well as reviewing academic language in the fourth stanza, and academic language in general. In the fourth stanza I will both look back on this third stanza, and the first and second stanzas, while also looking ahead to the fifth, and concluding stanza, in which I detail the connections, between that stanza and the preceding stanzas of the poem, to academic writing.

At this point in the poem, I feel it is important to look back at the stanzas overall, and even more importantly, the ideas outlined behind the ideas of those stanzas overall, to show that they do indeed clarify my main thesis, and more importantly still, my feelings towards the subject of academic language, with which I will conclude in the fifth and last stanza of the poem. In prior stanzas I expanded my vision of the poem, and academic writing in general, and referenced each of the other stanzas, with the strategy of discussing the stanza that came before, and after, the stanza in question.

In conclusion, I feel it is necessary to return to my original thesis, which was to demonstrate and discuss academic language, as well as outline how the poem developed stanza by stanza, before actually proceeding on to those stanzas, while I referred back to, and built upon, the concept of academic language. Creating a stanza by stanza list of references in the first paragraph created the means by which we saw the referencing of that first stanza, while also allowing us to look ahead to the third stanza, which itself allowed us to look both backward, and forward, so that now, in this final stanza, we can see the poem as a web of interconnecting, and inter-linking, threads, and links, in which no one stanza could exist without the others, and which communicates my ideas on academic language, both specifically, and in general.

Writing on the Edge website