December 23, 2008

Teachers Blogging - A Call for Proposals

The New Jersey College English Association (NJCEA) is soliciting panels and papers on literary and composition topics for its Annual Conference on March 21, 2009 at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

I'm putting together a panel on blogging and would love to connect with some English teachers who use blogging as a teaching tool. I'd like to have papers on students as bloggers, teachers blogging for their students, teachers blogging as educators and the pedagogy of using blogs as readings and as writing platforms. I realize that Poets Online (this blog and the main site) has many teachers reading and using it, and that many of you are far away from New Jersey, USA. Still, perhaps there are a few of you that are blogging and would like to present a paper at the conference.

There are also panels planned on poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and other topics. You can contact me or any panel's convener via the email addresses on the site.

Full and part-time college instructors, graduate students, and other professionals within the field of English are invited to send panel proposals and 250-word paper abstracts on any topic related to college English. Email submissions should include your name, e-mail address, affiliation, and mailing address.

NJCEA brings together those interested in language, literature, pedagogy, and other aspects of the teaching and study of literature and writing. Paper proposals are now being accepted for a variety of panels.

originally posted as Blogging in the English Classroom on Serendipity35

December 18, 2008

Last Minute Shopping

A week to go in the Christmas gift search - but 2 weeks if you give a new year gift! (I'm a classic Christmas Eve day/night shopper.)

We are not the only ones that were considering gifts for the poetically inclined.

From a post (and the additional comments) on Poetic Asides, come a few suggestions including the standard stuff (poetry collections)and some other ideas:

  • give a gift subscription to your favorite literary journal and support small presses
  • a framed poem
  • for the DIY crowd, a poetic decoration (poetry trees?)
  • a collection of your own poems (Is that too self-promotional?) Maybe just
  • your own poem on a holiday card
  • or including an appropriate poem with that bottle of wine or gift

December 8, 2008


Since I posted this month's prompt, I came across an interesting article online titled "The Poetics of Housework" that references the Behn poem I used as a model. There's a section on laundry that mentions several poems that might also serve as models this month.

I'm not familiar with Judith Minty’s poem "Making Music," but I can identify with the sounds described in the poem as the woman uses an old style wringer washing machine. It's what my mom used in our basement when I was child.

Rita Dove has a poem called "Taking in Wash" that doesn't deal directly with the laundry process, but uses it metaphorically.

every light hums, the kitchen is arctic
with sheets, Papa is making the hankies
sail. Her foot upon
a silk-stitched rose, she waits
until he turns, his smile sliding all over.
Mama a tight dark fist.
Touch that child
and I'll cut you down
just like the cedar of Lebanon.

The mother protects the clean laundry from the drunken man, and then she protects her daughter.

I said that serendipity played a part in this end-of-year prompt, since it was a chance browsing session that led me to Jane Kenyon's little poem titled "Wash." That started me thinking about all the clotheslines in all backyards of my youth. I loved the smell and heat of summer sun that was on the cloth fresh off the line. Everyone I knew had a clothesline, but now I can't recall the last time I saw one.

Later, I was clicking around the web looking for poems and came across "Whether or Not There Are Apples" by Robin Behn - another poem about wash on the clothesline. Both poems share that feeling I had of sun-warmed and season-scented cloth. I still remember visiting my cousins for a sleepover and being disgusted by their bed sheets that had been baked in a dryer.

The two poems together made our very simple prompt for December. Write a poem about laundry, wash, clotheslines or anything connected to that whole simple experience past or present. (extended holiday deadline = January 10, 2009)

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) was a well-known contemporary American writer. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, she published four collections of poetry and a translation of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova before her untimely death from leukemia in 1995. She was featured with her husband, poet Donald Hall, on the Bill Moyers' special, "A Life Together."

Robin Behn is the author of Paper Bird, and The Red Hour and is the co-editor of The Practice of Poetry. She teaches in the MFA Program at The University of Alabama.