Sunday, April 11, 2010
Sunday--April 11, 2010
I have had an ongoing (and quite serious and intense) love affair with words and reading since I was very young.
As a college composition instructor, it is often very challenging to convince students of the benefits of reading and how stories or even essays can save our lives. Most of my students are not English majors and so understandably, they are eager to "get it over with." Sometimes I will see a glimmer of interest in their eyes or an enthusiastic nod. This feeds my hope and passion.
This poem is a fairly accurate account of what I often experience in the classroom.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ENVIOUS
My freshman students are restless. Only six more minutes of class and several pat their pockets, touch the security of an IPhone or fidget with the strap of a backpack. Ready for flight.
I read a line or two aloud from, say, Henry Miller or Pablo Neruda, maybe a sample bit of Updike. The early pages of Sons and Lovers.
Green as a kiwi, I proclaim the seduction of language. I ask the class: Don’t you wish you had written these words? These words eliminate writer’s block. Jealousy in romance is stupid and destructive. (This proclamation elicits a momentary pause from restlessness.) But as lubricant for our verbal brain machinery, envy is highly effective. Call it literary Viagra. Now they laugh.