Friday, April 6, 2012
Friday, October 21, 2011
I haven't been chasing many clouds lately, at least around here. And I'm okay with that. Life's crazy. I'm busier than I've ever been. Yadayadayada. But I've recently started to sidle up to Tumblr. So follow me there. Or not. Whatever. Just know there will be shorter posts, more poets, more poetries, more poetics there.
I'm just sayin'.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Last week I posted a conference proposal-in-progress. This week I've got the proposal-as-submitted. Any thoughts are welcome.
Title: “Would that All God’s Children Were Poets”: On Teaching the Virtue of Words
As an online writing instructor, I view it as my primary responsibility to help my students begin to grapple with the ethical implications of language use, to help them understand more deeply the responsibilities communicators have when writing, speaking, and/or listening to others. This philosophy of responsible communication centers on four main things:
1. Alma's faith in the persuasive potential of spiritually-sensitive language. Mormon calls this “the virtue of the word of God” (Alma 31:5); it can also be characterized as what writer Patricia Karamesines calls the rhetoric of belief, which, in her words, “labors to close the gap between people and between a people and that to which it aspires, like the company of God.”
2. God’s counsel to Joseph Smith about how to access power in the priesthood and to most effectively influence others for good (see D&C 121:41-46). Especially germane to the issue of ethical language use is God’s statement that “no power or influence can or ought to be maintained [. . .] , only by persuasion” (D&C 121:41; italics mine)—persuasion being the subject of rhetorical education at least since the ancient Greeks.
3. The idea—which is closely related to number two and which was first explored at length by philosopher J.L. Austin—that we can use language to act upon the world, to influence others in ways that compel them to action without violating the principles of moral agency. My main interest here is on the ways in which carefully-crafted language can open minds and spirits to new possibilities and new relationships and transform knowledge, behavior, and relationships in the process. By carefully-crafted language I mean poetry and rhetorically-sensitive prose, e.g., prose marked by such figures of speech as metaphor, metonymy, parallelism, etc., and with a keen awareness of audience, a well-defined argument, and clarity of voice and tone.
4. The ethical, empathic affect of generous, rhetorical listening (a principle developed in depth by rhetoricians Krista Ratcliffe and Wayne Booth), of making ourselves vulnerable to others’ language, to others’ stories such that we can enter into their experiences and, like Christ, work to bridge the distance between Self and Other.
In my presentation I will elaborate on these ideas, drawing from the work of prophets, poets, philosophers, rhetoricians, and scholars of language and mind in order to explore how these principles inform my study of language and my teaching of the foundations of writing and reasoning in FDENG 101 Online.
Friday, July 1, 2011
It follows aspiring poet Raymond Joshua (played by real-life poet Saul Williams, whose work I really like) from his wanderings through a D.C. ghetto selling marijuana, sharing poems, and contemplating his dreams (whatever they really are) to his arrest for possession and his short time in prison, where he meets Lauren Bell (Sonja Sohn), a writing teacher who volunteers at the prison teaching inmates and who quickly becomes Ray's love interest.
Ray tracks Lauren down after he gets bailed out of prison and, after a backyard poetry reading, they have sex—Ray convinces her they should because he wants to live in this moment; what a line—followed by a big, dramatic fight the next morning, though I'm not 100% what that fight's about. They part ways, but the tension gets resolved when Ray shows up at the poetry slam Lauren invited him to check out. When she stands to slam, she dedicates the performance (which I didn't think was that great) to this promising new poet she's just met. (Yes, she means Ray.) After she finishes, Ray gathers enough guts to get on stage and he gives a strong performance (much stronger than hers) to an awestruck audience, then he hides in the bathroom, where he and Lauren talk for a minute about his potential. He then tells her he has to get some air and goes running through the streets of D.C., ending his night—and the movie—staring up at the Washington Monument.
The film does have some strong moments, say, when Ray freestyles with the inmate next-door (WARNING: strong language) or when he performs to break up a fight in the prison courtyard or when he stands in Lauren's backyard or takes the stage in his first poetry slam (though it's really less a slam and more of an open mic). I just wish it had more of these compelling performances and less of the brooding melodrama that takes place in-between.
Ah, well. At least I can watch the good parts on YouTube.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Or on Open University's pedagogical reach. Or for that matter on YouTube's democracy.
@openculture just posted a link on Twitter to OU's video series "The History of English in Ten Minutes." I couldn't help reposting, mostly because, well, it's a witty animated journey through words. And who doesn't love witty, animated, documentary-type videos on YouTube? And words, words, words.
That's what I thought.
As a teaser, here's one of my favorites: "The English of Science"
Following are some thoughts I've been developing for a presentation proposal I plan to submit for BYU-Idaho's fall faculty conference. The conference theme is "Improving the Quality of our Teaching and the Depth of our Knowledge."
As I've pursued my thinking on this topic of responsible language use and the virtue of words (an interest that really undergirds my pursuits as a parent, teacher, poet, and scholar), I realized I've been summarizing ideas that I've been pursuing for some time now but have never really collected in one place. It was kind of a liberating moment for me because it seeks to bring together under one tent the disparate thinkers who have influenced my own nascent philosophies of language and human relationships. So I'm reveling in the serendipity before it makes for the door.
Anyway: the proposal-thoughts-in-progress. Feedback welcome.
On the Virtue of Teaching Words and On Teaching the Virtue of Words: What I've Learned About Language from FDENG 101 (Online)
Pricking Hearts (Jarom 1:12)
More Powerful Effect (Alma 31:5)
Language not only as a call to action but as a form of acting. Language enables us to act upon the world. Language as a means to exercise agency.
Teaching students that language is a form of action by, first, the language I use to frame their rhetorical agency/to frame them in the classroom—as seekers of knowledge whose language is a form of inquiry and knowledge. That language is a means of ordering the world and our experience of it. That language is a means of exerting our agency and influence in the world
Through the rhetoric of the question: Cecil O. Samuelson on questions—learning to ask effective questions
Through generous rhetorical listening, becoming vulnerable to another's language (and its intent)
Through the mutual pursuit of understanding (see Booth's rhetorology)
Rhetoric as a means of regulating behavior, yes, but it ought to/can go much deeper than that. The right language at the right time can change souls, can persuade people toward greater faith, toward transformation
Our relationship with God through the Holy Ghost is in part rhetorical. The power of the HG as a rhetorical act. Makes much sense if we consider that the angels speak by the power of the HG, speaking the truth in a way that resonates with our spirits and persuades us to change
Language as a means of proving contraries, of approaching, exploring, understanding the paradoxes and ambiguities of human experience and relationships
Language as a metonymic expression of and means to deepen human connection with one another, with the natural world, with God
Language as a situated, embodied act
Promoting rhetorical responsibility
No Power or Influence, Only By the Acts of Language
Faith as Firm Persuasion
A Memorable Fancy
Raising Others into a Perception of the Infinite
• Wayne Booth (rhetorology)
• J.L. Austin (performative utterances)
• Krista Ratcliffe (rhetorical listening)
• Kenneth Burke (rhetoric as identification)
• William Blake ? (Marriage of Heaven and Hell)
• Patricia Karamesines (using language responsibly)
• Richard Marback (on vulnerability on rhetoric)
• Kristie Fleckenstein (on embodied literacies and a poetics of teaching)
• Alex Caldiero ? (defamiliarizing language to persuade others to a new perspective on the world)
• Joseph Smith (on language, the pursuit of knowledge, responsibly exerting our power and influence through acts of persuasion [rhetorical acts], and God)
• David A. Bednar (on seeking learning by study and by faith)
• Mark Canada ("Students as Seekers in Online Courses")
• Mormon (on the virtue of the word of God)
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Iacoboni, Marco. Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Connect with Others. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008. Print.
[Edit to add: 7/1/2011] I read this one on my Kindle. Here are my highlights and notes (note: I did far more highlighting as I read this one than I did note-taking.]
Saturday, April 23, 2011
My poem, "Vestment," was featured at WIZ the 19th. Gustave Doré and a New Zealand fern leaf made it into this one. But you'll have to make the connection between the two yourself.
I'm a day late shouting this from the wilderness, but virtual friend and poet Terresa Wellborn turned the spotlight onto one of my poems Thursday. Link through and come enjoy some chocolate chip waffles as you dip into the realm of potential being.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Birch, Carol L. “Storytelling: Practice and Movement.” Teaching Oral Traditions. Ed. John Miles Foley. New York: The Modern Language Association, 1998. Print. 308-17.
I take this to mean the following: "I," the audience member, has certain expectations about how the storytelling event should meet her needs. These expectations center on personal moral and aesthetic standards---her beliefs about what and how a story---a text-in-performance---should mean. As the teller tells her tales, the audience member is weighing the text and the teller's performance of it against her beliefs; she's testing the teller's conviction and credibility. If she's convinced the teller's tale and its performance are credible, she can answer that, yes, she does believe what this person is telling her. She can subsequently give herself over to the interaction facilitated by the text-in-performance. However, if she's not fully convinced, she my shut herself off to the audience-text-teller relationship or at least hold back the attention required by her participatory role in the storytelling event. If all audience members did this, the performance would be a flop
As Birch suggests, these dynamics exist on a continuum, from total connection among audience, text, and teller to total disconnection and many degrees in between. She further suggests that these terms (conviction and credibility) can be used to evaluate a range of storytelling circumstances---from everyday storytelling ("situational") to storytelling meant explicitly to pass on a culture's moral standards and ethical principles ("conscious-cultural") to professional, staged storytelling ("platform"). Her categories---situational storytelling, conscious-cultural storytelling, and platform storytelling---can further be used to discuss how stories and their performance mean in various social and cultural contexts.
*Even keeping in mind that this essay was published in the '90s, Birch has some fundamental things to say about the critical vocabulary used to discuss texts-in-performance and storytelling/performance events.
Image source: The Storycrafters
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
A fairly recent addition to my Browns and Rusts series. Feedback absolutely welcome.
Landscape, with a Cricket's Chirr
Beneath the ramble and catch
of tumbleweed: the lull of horizon
delicious with distance and elegy,
dead-ends and blue highways hoarse
with the whisper of wind, dust,
wood, bone, memory—the grist
of solitude stirred up
the morning you woke determined
to pluck the sun from God's thigh
as he passed, full-stride,
over this side of town. That's
how Jacob got new-named, you say
when the story comes up with friends—
and strangers, for that matter.
Like when you were painting
plein air roadscapes outside Redmond
and you used it to ply conversation
with the breeze as she watched you
seduce landscape from ripples of soul
stirred by her sigh. Yes, you say,
that's how Jacob got new-named.
Nevermind it was his hip flicked
out of joint when the angel
stopped wrestling fair, wrested God
from Israel's shank. Nevermind
your layover in Peniel via Genesis
left sand in the visions you put on
and off like shoes at Mnemosyne's
fire ring. Nevermind that won't earn you
a cross-reference from “Jacob (see
Israel)” in God's Almanac
of New Names: From Michael (see
Adam) to the Present. Nevermind
God hasn't appended his reputation
to your presence on these roads
supple as a cricket's chirr
from the cleft between landscape
and soul, soul and skin, skin
and the palette you've charted
like desire’s ramble and catch
down the back roads and canyons
(After a series of roadscapes by J. Kirk Richards)
This is part of One Shot Wednesday, a communal writing event sponsored by One Stop Poetry.