Friday, June 13, 2008

Endings, Beginnings

In a few days, this blog will go on official "hiatus," not that you'll probably notice the difference! Well, it's been a hard year: I started with 24, maybe 25 projects in the works and have slowly but surely crossed them off the list. The challenge has been not to add more, or at least not too many more, as the year went by. I've done well enough--better than usual, for me.

One short-term project that came up this spring was the chance to work as a "poetry consultant" for WGBH in Boston. For years, they've had a wonderful website for math, science, and technology educators: Teacher's Domain. With help from the Poetry Foundation they've introduced a new poetry section (realm? province? what's part of a domain?) with streaming videos, background essays, discussion questions lesson plans, and the like. You can find it here; I didn't actually write the material myself, or at least not most of it, but I was involved in the brainstorming and editing, and I'm proud of the results.

Ten days ago I wrapped up "How to Teach a Poem (and Learn from One, Too)," a year-long series of monthly workshops for middle school teachers. Sponsored by the NEH, the workshops featured a great mix of guest speakers, including Baron Wormser and David Cappella (authors of the indispensible A Surge of Language), John O'Connor (author of the lively, jam-packed Wordplaygrounds: Reading, Writing, and Performing Poetry in the English Classroom), master teacher Eileen Murphy (coach of several Illinois state champions in the Poetry Out Loud recitation contest), and Danielle Filas, a splendid improv / drama teacher and alumna of my Say Something Wonderful summer seminar a few years back. Dani has a blog of her own now--Mission Improvisational; swing by and ask her about staging The Rime of the Ancient Mariner with nothing but desk chairs and a handful of wooden coat hangers.

Finally, kismet: this afternoon's mail brought my advance editor's copies of Ronald Johnson: Life and Works, now beautifully published by the National Poetry Foundation (on sale at their table at the Orono conference!--I'll get you a link when I can), and also the contract from MacFarland press for my next co-edited collection, a book of "new approaches to popular romance fiction" which I wanted to call The Mind of Love, but they've balked. Ah, well. Any suggestions?

Off to the End of Year Party. Then, I think, to buy some strings for all five of my mandolins. At the end of a year like this one, we all deserve a treat!