The Flint and the Steel

There are already too many blogs in Paragraph City. Nobody reads them all. Some of them, nobody reads at all, including the people who write them.

But poets don't usually write poetry because people need to read it; people, in the aggregate, would survive just fine without poetry. Poets write because they have to, and that's why people discover, at some point in their lives, that they do need poetry to survive. We don't live in the aggregate; we live individually, inside the things that make us human and that usually hurt. Understanding that takes poetry, either as you write it or as you read it, or both.

I suspect the same is true of many sorts of writing: keeping a blog, keeping a diary, writing fiction, writing Mom, laying out ink in crooked little lines in a journal. At least, that's the way it is with me.

It's all quite self-indulgent, which I believe was the criticism leveled at Thoreau when he sought to publish Walden. He wrote about himself because he knew no other so well, and ever since we've been making the same excuse. I suppose his New England reasoning will support one more scribbler.

But the goal here is not to do write that much about myself as it is to write about my students and the classrooms — online and in person; the activities I try and the things that seem to me worth teaching; the striving of students that I don't understand; and the flint-and-steel words that ought to strike sparks, it seems to me, but don't. This is all definitely higher ed, but also definitely community college. It's certainly pedagogy, but it's also just the poems, the language, the phrase turned well and the phrase turned sour.

Or so the forecast goes: some clouds and mottled sun in a college classroom on the second floor of a old brick building where handicapped people used to refinish furniture, when Paragraph City was younger than it is today.


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