[This post appears concurrently at Magical Teaching.]
A manilla envelope in my box: evaluations. I opened it and thumbed through the pages, noticing (and skipping) those which stayed inside predictable boxes: the perfect column of “exceeds expectations,” the zig-zag alternation between 3’s and 4’s intended to suggest real thought, and of course the completely blank. Two evaluations caught my eye, however. Both had single sentences below the same question: Does the instructor exhibit enthusiasm for his subject?
A line from a lovely poem by Paul Willis—in which he calls an oscillating fan on a summer night a lighthouse beacon made of wind—got me thinking about metaphor for a few days.
Which is why this morning I remembered something Donna Dinsmore once said at Regent College. “God is a rock,” she said, nodding while she stared at us for an uncomfortable length of time. “God is a rock. Mmm. Mmm?”
By then we were ready to agree with her. We all nodded and hummed. It seemed so obvious. And then she said, “But God is not a rock!”
And that seemed obvious too.
This Thursday is the first meeting of a poetry class I’m teaching at Kilns College. (There is still room if you want to register!) I’m asking my students to buy their books from a local bookstore and bring me a receipt, and so I haven’t announced the titles of the books before the start of class. My hope is that the students will browse the local shop, enjoy it, and purchase more of their books there in the future.
Local books, local bikes, local beer…there are certain products that benefit from the wisdom of local guides and local relationships. Writing poems can feel like an isolated experience, but reading poems in community, just as shopping in community, can, in the words of one of our mystery poets, be described thus:
“…entered / the sound everywhere, gathered like glass, boozy with gold.”
My friend Ross has a post up that I want you to read.
I used to base my success as a writer on publication. When that didn’t happen as often as I hoped, I changed it to how much I could accomplish. But since production varies on my schedule I changed how I measure success completely.
I now ask myself…
Now click through to his post and read the end of it. You’ll be glad you did.
I was reading some essays by Scott Cairns recently, and came across this 4th century prayer from Saint Ephraim.
Lord and Master of my life, grant not unto me the spirit of idleness, of discouragement, of lust for power, and of vain speaking.
Grant, rather, unto me, thy servant, the spirit of chastity, of meekness, of patience, and of love.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant that I may perceive my own transgressions, and judge not my brother, for blessed are you, unto all ages. Amen.
After I read it two or six times, I realized it was about the writing life. I don’t know anything about Saint Ephraim, but I’m glad he knew what a creative writer in the 21st century might need, and might want.