Friday, June 20, 2008

Billy Collins for Breakfast

Have a former U.S. poet laureate with your coffee on Saturday:

The History Teacher

Trying to protect his students' innocence
he told them the Ice Age was really just
the Chilly Age, a period of a million years
when everyone had to wear sweaters.

And the Stone Age became the Gravel Age,
named after the long driveways of the time.

The Spanish Inquisition was nothing more
than an outbreak of questions such as
"How far is it from here to Madrid?"
"What do you call the matador's hat?"

The War of the Roses took place in a garden,
and the Enola Gay dropped one tiny atom
on Japan.

The children would leave his classroom
for the playground to torment the weak
and the smart,
mussing up their hair and breaking their glasses,

while he gathered up his notes and walked home
past flower beds and white picket fences,
wondering if they would believe that soldiers
in the Boer War told long, rambling stories
designed to make the enemy nod off.

17 comments:

AndiF said...

Howdy all!

Hope everybody had a good week while I was out enjoying the splendors of the Red River Gorge.

Speaking of which ...

Trailside at the Red River [LINK]

Kentucky has a tropical rain forest? [LINK]

Above the Gorge [LINK]

BTW, the fireweed picture in the last post was taken by Jim.

Paul Lamb said...

Mornin! I didn't know that Texas has a canyon almost as grand as that one everyone has heard of out west. It's near Amarillo.

BTW, I started reading The Virgin of Small Plains yesterday. Quite a character introduction in the first chapter. Sort of slides right into the narrative.

Kimberly Frost said...

Andi -

All the pix are great, but Trailside at the Red River is amazing. Needs to be on a postcard.

Off to have coffee and then some writing.

Hugs to all!

Nancy P said...

Andi! Welcome home. Looks as if you had a lovely time, to judge by the beautious photos. That first one is my fav, I think. (You know, I thought I remembered that the fireweed photo was Jim's.)

Did you stay in one place and travel out from there each day, or did you camp at new spots each night?

Nancy P said...

Hi, Paul. That first chapter had a long progression in the writing. It's nothing like what it was originally. As far as "character introduction," goes, I did that quite deliberately. I felt that I had to make sure that Abby captured the reader's affection and respect early on, so they'd like her in the next chapter when she's 16 and in bed with her boyfriend. The way to do that, I decided, was to see her in one of those moments in life that really do reveal character--such as having to choose between taking an action that might save somebody else but could endanger yourself, or choosing to save yourself at the cost of the other person. So in the first chapter, you see that she grew up to be a good person, no matter what "you," (meaning, some readers)might think of her as a teen.

Nancy P said...

Kimber, where will you write today?

I'm finally almost to 300 pp. The writers' retreat helped a lot, even if I did run out of writing steam by late Wednesday.

Maria Lima said...

Morning, all! I've survived the first day of the pinkeye and am hoping that today will continue to be better. I've *got* to work on my essay, since it's due next week. (eep!)

Andi - gorgeous pics. Who'd'a thunk this beauty at the Red River?

::sending good writing vibes to all them that needs::

Nancy P said...

Hey, Maria, glad your pink eye is better.

May your essay be the essayest essay that ever essayed! Cool that you get to do it.

It's a gorgeous morning. I must ruin it by vacuuming.

AndiF said...

Thanks all for the compliments on the pics. It was really easy to take lots of lovely shots as the Red River and environs are quite photogenic. Besides the river and the gorgeous woods, there were arches, cliffs and alcoves, and a profusion of rhododendrons, many in bloom.

Maria, we were really impressed with what great hiking (and kayaking/canoeing part of the year) this area of Kentucky offered.

Congrats Nancy on the pages!

FARfetched said...

Hey all, just sipping a little coffee before jumping in the Saturday saddle & fixing breakfast for chicken house workers (the girls) and various guests.

Andi, those are great pix. That's Kentucky? Eastern part? That first one especially. If I had a few moments to think about it…

Nancy, I liked the poem. I never had teachers sugar-coat the lessons like that, but was on the receiving end of the tormenters. Teachers can be so totally clueless.

Interesting calculation on your part, concerning Abby's introduction. It didn't bother me much about the next chapter, except that I thought they were taking some unnecessary risks. Getting walked in on is the height of indiscretion, and where they were that could have happened just as easily as the other. :-) [I put my teenagers in a haunted field; the field was watching but also misdirecting a couple un-friends looking for them.]

Maria, I hope that pinkeye goes away fast & you can crank away on your essay without further distraction! As for me, I'm off to gather a few blueberries for the pancakes.

Nancy P said...

fresh blueberry pancakes!!
Far. . .you live too far away!

Kimberly Frost said...

Nancy,

300 pages is great! It's easy to run out of steam at the end of that intense 10 days.

I'm just back home from a Starbucks writing session. They open super early, even on weekends, so that's cool. I was there before 8 a.m. and the staff was quite chipper. I love that.

They had trivia on the chalkboard where one picks up the mochas. "How deep is Mark Twain?" was the question. Apparently 2 fathoms/12 feet. I didn't know that. I did however know the barista's follow-up question, which was "What was Mark Twain's real name?"

Beth said...

Hi all. Sorry for the extended absences - Bill's laptop died, and mine still is only wired when I can find a signal nearby to steal (like right now). I'm currently recovering his PC, but he didn't have it backed up, so has lost some pictures. :-( At least he didn't have a novel on it or anything! Loving my Mac even more today! And wishing I had pancakes too - boo hoo! Welcome home andif, gorgeous shots as always! Off to work more - Ironman tomorrow, so we'll be cheering on the crazies on their bikes from the comfort of our yard. Happy Saturday!

Nancy P said...

Hi, Beth. Ironman is one of those events that makes so glad I'm not athletic, lol.

maryb said...

Hi all. Fantastic pics Andi. Welcome back! Doesn't time fly when you are on vacation?

I just got back from a local bloggers meetup that went well except for the hour of light rain we endured under the trees. Now I'm going to put my feet up and read. I'm in the middle of Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett and I'm gaining even more respect for you writer folk than I had from reading this blog - which says a lot because all of you awe me to no end.

Nancy P said...

Hi, maryb. I don't think I've ever read anything by Ann Patchett.

AndiF said...

Far, it's about an hour southeast of Lexington.

Hi Mary. Ann Patchett is one of my favorite writers. I thought Bel Canto was almost perfect (and I think in a lot of ways it's ideas about relationships are reflected in Truth and Beauty). Even though it's probably not as well constructed and written as Bel Canto, I think The Magician's Assistant is my favorite of her books.