a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, March 29, 2015


March 20, 2013
WAR AND PEACE, continued

M is still reading War and Peace.  He is on page 6.  Yesterday we chatted about how it is known as one of the longest books ever.  I was careful to make that detail sound like a badge of honor rather than a deterrent.  So far, so good.

I asked him today, “How is it going?” 

“It’s good so far.  There hasn’t been any action yet, though.”

“Oh, it is starting slow?” is what came out of my mouth.  I kept myself from saying what I was really thinking: “You think??  You are reading WAR AND PEACE for Pete’s sake!  Get ready for LOOOONG stretches of philosophical pontificating, buddy.  These 6 pages of no action are just the beginning.”

“Yeah, but I am going to keep reading.” was his response.

After independent reading, we took some time to practice poetry performances this class has been working on.  In preparation for writing and performing their own spoken word pieces, the students are performing, in groups, selections from October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman, which is a stunning book of poetry.  I don’t remember having taken a breath the entire first time I read it.

About 5 minutes into practicing, M bursts up to me waving one of the poems assigned to his group in the air.  I am anticipating a complaint about a group member not pulling his weight or an outlandish idea to “act out” some of the words of the poem (M is struggling to grasp the idea of performing with only his voice and his stance—his group’s physical use of the space). 

Instead, M gushes, “Look Mrs. Rush,” and points to the page.  I follow his finger.  His group is performing a poem titled “What You Can Do in Eighteen Hours.”  Basically a poem is a list of things one could accomplish in 18 hours—mostly including activities a college student might have actually been engaged in on the night Matthew Shepard was attacked, ending with a line describing what he endured after being tied to a fence and left for dead before being found 18 hours later.  M’s finger leads me to the line, “Read War and Peace.”

“I get it Mrs. Rush!  This is MY book!  She is saying that 18 hours is a long time because you could one of the longest books in the world in that time!”

Again, I play it cool on the outside, but inside I am one giant grin.

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