Yeah. It’s Like That.

Sheridan Blau on the National Writing Project, writing on page 98 of James Gray’s Teachers at the Center:

Having experienced what it means to learn in a community of learners, teachers are inclined to count such learning as more authoritative and authentic than any other and to think of such learning as the proper aim of instruction. They therefore become determined to turn their own classrooms into learning communities that will function like a writing project, where respect for the intelligence of every learner is the starting place for all activity, and where all learners are expected and required to take responsibility for their own learning as well as for assisting others to learn — a community where learning entails the production of knowledge as well as its reception, and where knowledge is always seen as provisional and subject to challenge and refinement.

As my friends and colleagues gather in Washington D.C. for the National Writing Project’s Spring Meeting, I hope they’ll take a few moments to reread Blau’s words here.

This is what’s worth fighting for, y’all.

This matters. It’s important.

Be well, be firm, and be kind.


NPM 2011: Prompt -1

Creative Commons License photo credit: HeavenlyShell

I didn’t know what bokeh was before just a few moments ago when I stumbled across this definition:

In photography, bokeh (Japanese pronunciation: [boke][1][2]) is the blur,[3][2] or the aesthetic quality of the blur,[4][5][6] in out-of-focus areas of an image, or “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light.”[7] Differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively.[3] Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas.[3] However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image.

Sometimes, it’s what’s blurry that’s most important.  As we get ready to focus on poetry, I wonder what’s blurry for you right now.  Today, as preparation, write about that.



NPM 2011: Let’s Begin. Again.

For the last couple of years, I’ve published a photo poetry prompt each day of April as a way to honor National Poetry Month.  Poetry and poets are important, and I hope that this month you can take some time to read some poems, write some poems, and think about the role that language plays in your life.

Each day, around midnight Mountain Time, a new prompt will show up here.  Sometimes, there’ll be words.  Other times just the picture.  Nothing special – but sometimes it’s helpful to write to someone else’s idea rather than your own.1

If you’d like, you’re welcome to write to these prompts either in the comments each day or in your own space online.  I don’t write a poem every day – and am not saying that you should.  But write when you can.  And invite others to write, too, be they friends or family or students or strangers you might meet.  A practice prompt will follow a little bit later today.

I raise my keyboard and pens to you. And to poets and poetry.  Happy writing.

  1. And sometimes, it’s better to ignore another’s prompt and go off in your own direction.  That’s fine, too.  What’s essential is that you write. []