Archive | July, 2006

Further Updates

28 Jul

I went to Celebrate Brooklyn last night, to see the Kronos Quartet play the score for Dracula (and watch Dracula). A heavy mist rolled over the crowd and turned greenish under the lights by the trees. Less than a third into the film, thunder started grumbling and the sky started blinking and flashing. The crowd kept applauding the sky’s thunder claps (though they also showed Bela Lugosi some love) and gave the musicians a standing ovation when the concert was cut short due to torrential rain. It was a very enjoyable 20 minutes.

I’ve finally updated the writing links section of my website (see “me, elsewhere” link in the sidebar).

Twelve 55 word stories are up on the 55 words site. Read them, love them.

On Teaching Writing

28 Jul

I had a rude awakening in my practicum seminar yesterday. We talked about an article called “A challenge to second language writing professionals,” by Ilona Leki, focusing on the claim that “Writing is personally fulfilling” and that that’s one of the big reasons why writing is so important. Basically, Leki says this claim is bunk:

“The argument that learning to write is important because writing serves a few people so well is reminiscent of parents’ argument to coerce children into practicing violin–some day the learner will be grateful. But we are not dealing with children, and we are not our students’ parents.”

The instructor asked how many in the room actually found writing personally fulfilling (we’re a class of 8). Two or three including myself sheepishly raised our hands. Fact is, writing is not fun for a lot people, and torture for a lot of language learners– a notion I never really considered but am beginning to understand. How can we ask them to see writing as “cathartic” if they’re still struggling with the language (another question posed by Leki)?

So I was left with this dangling question: if students are not the creative type prone to playing with languages in the first place, do we not bother? Do we focus forever on English for academic purposes and business English and all-things-dry-and-pragmatic? That doesn’t really lend itself to flexibility with a language. And that doesn’t seem practical either. Hm.

First Lines Collage

21 Jul

Pure silliness. See if you can match the first lines below with their stories (choices below collage).

It was winter. A string of naked light bulbs, from which it seemed all warmth had been drained, illuminated the little depot’s cold, windy platform. Inside, Old Jack raked the cinders together with a piece of cardboard and spread them judiciously over the whitening dome of coals. A spiteful scar crossed his face: an ash-colored and nearly perfect arc that creased his temple at one tip and his cheek at the other.

Running footsteps—light, soft-soled shoes made of curious leathery cloth brought from Ceylon setting the pace; thick flowing boots, two pairs, dark blue and gilt, reflecting the moonlight in blunt gleams and splotches, following a stone’s throw behind. She was tall and slim, and though no longer young, had the strong firm breasts of the dark-haired woman. When he got on the bus, he irritated everyone. Poor Juan!

There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel. As soon as she arrived she went straight to the kitchen to see if the monkey was there. The monkey, named Senator Onesimo Sanchez, had six months and eleven days to go before his death when he found the woman of his life. He held his breath an instant, dug his nails into the palms of his hands, and said quickly: “I’m in love with you.”

Lines from:
G. Verga, “The Wolf”
T. Capote, “A Tree of Night”
J.L. Borges, “The Shape of the Sword”
L. Heker, “The Stolen Party”
M.V. Llosa, “Sunday, Sunday”
L. Valenzuela, “The Censors”
J. Joyce, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room”
F.S. Fitzgerald, “Tarquin of Cheapside”
G. di Lampedusa, “Joy and the Law”
E. Hemingway, “Cat in the Rain”
G.G. Marquez, “Death Constant Beyond Love”

p.s. More stories are up on the 55 Words site! Updated weekly! Write yer own and tell yer friends!

Happy Bastille Day!

14 Jul

It’s another sticky NY day and I’m miserably delighted with all the work I’ve got to do. Here are some updates (and shameless plugs):

-I’ve added new stories to 55words.

-I went to the launch party for Collectanea’s summer launch party last night. Not as heaving a crowd as their debut, but a pleasant evening in from the mugginess, with some good stories to listen to. In case you missed it, my story “Bastille Day” is in their winter issue, with a podcast/radioplay version. I understand the summer issue will be up Monday.

-I started reading Flannery O’Connor’s collected works and am thoroughly enjoying it. This winter I gobbled up Raymond Carver’s Cathedral and quasi-gobbled Angela Carter’s Burning Your Boats. School is making the gobbling-thing rather difficult, but at least short stories can be read in a single train ride. That’s a real lifesaver. As much as I enjoy reading about how to make grammar interesting (I do!), sometimes I go through fiction withdrawal.

Antigonish Review

6 Jul

The Antigonish Review has published my story “Reunion: Recovery,” in its Spring 2006 issue (#145). Yipee!

55 words

2 Jul

So I’m now the editor of the guest stories portion of Rosemary Mosco’s website. There’s a new email address for submissions: 55gueststories at gmail dot com. I hope y’all will try writing one–55 words, no more, no less. They’re oodles of fun. I put one of my own up on the site (Ro originally had it on her livejournal). Take a peek .

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