Monday, February 10, 2014


signs of life, january 2014
This is a student piece, written in response to a Rumi quote prompt from a couple of weeks ago. I was impressed with her deeply physical descriptions of being cold, and the description of a civilized city like Toronto being a wilderness. As well, her on-the-spot spontaneous analysis of "side effects" really hit me.

This is my favorite line:
And so this quiver that I quiver is a reminder that I am alive and fragile and only a moment in all of time, waiting for a bus that will be late and trying not to make all of this a bigger deal than it really is.
-----On to the piece--------------

Stay here, quivering with each moment
like a drop of mercury

By Jan Derbyshire

I quiver here like I don't remember quivering before. It is minus 31 with the wind chill factor. I don't understand this wind chill factor. The temperature, I'm told is minus 19 degrees celsius*,but with the wind chill factor it feels like minus 31*. If it feels like minus 31, isn't it minus 31? This is all too much like drugs and side effects. To me an effect is an effect. When they say side effect it makes it sound like something that will happen beside you. If a drug has a side effect of making you gain weight, the fat will just pile up next to you. You can even leave it there when you go out, just call the fat sitter. My point is this-they talk about the wind chill factor like a side effect of the weather. It's true, they say, it feels like minus 31 but don't feel too bad, it's really only minus 19. And who can say what one person's experience of minus 31 is to another person's experience of minus 31.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Way of Writing Is Not A Subtle Argument

Lost, Chicago 2013
I am sharing a student writing again this week.
I love this piece because it so clearly shows the writer's process.

The prompt for this last week was to use one of many possible (and provided) quotes from Rumi. This is the one this student, Heather, chose. She chose another one and felt similar resistance, so she went on ahead with this one: "The way of love is not a subtle argument." At first it seems to be "working" - she's writing about the quote. Then she feels her block, and proceeds to describe the guards who are protecting whatever is behind her block.

Then, the not-subtle argument becomes her process - it's not (just) about love anymore, but about the very writing she is doing. Finally, she returns to the place where she is - neighbors and sounds, and creates/discovers a little universe that is conspiring against inspiring her.