So far this summer has been spent doing two activities: playing four square and reading/writing poetry.
I began a job last week as a counselor at the B&G Club daycamp and now spend my mornings and afternoons playing soccer, supervising kids in the pool, playing with gimp and brainstorming ideas for poems. I spend my evenings and weekends reading and writing as much poetry as possible, trying to use what remains of my energy and channel it into profound ideas and radical leaps and surprises in my writing. My success rate for this is so far debatable, at best.
I have come up with a handful of great ideas during the camp day and have dutifully found the first piece of scrap paper I could find to scribble them down to ensure I'd never forget them. I've read two or three books of poetry so far since the residency, and am in the process of reading the book for my 'group' annotation, which will be an annotation that I complete along with the other students also studying with my faculty mentor. The goal of this group annotation is to see what each of us might have missed, to get a better idea of what we each look for and "see" when we read a poem (and therefore what we might write when we feel inspired, and what we'll take away), and as impetus to get all of us into a continued discussion about the book and about our work during the semester.
I'm also reading (here and there though) a bunch of short stories and longer works in anticipation of teaching in the fall. I was also given the great news when I went to see my classroom two weeks ago, that my suggested book for summer reading Rats Saw God has been given the green light as a possible summer reading book for students and I have at least six students signed up for it right now! That's impressive, especially since they probably saw my name and said "who the heck is that?!", but trusted the book cover and description enough to go out on a limb and decide to read it.
When I was in high school I think I considered Rats Saw God to be the next Catcher in the Rye. It was so radically transformative that I think it made me reconsider friendships, appreciate others more, and realize there was a vast world beyond the small town where I grew up. I think before that book I considered I would live and die in that town, would probably marry someone from nearby or from even in the town and would see little of the world. For some reason that desire to strike out and explore, to try new things, to go to college (!), and to really experience life never really brewed within me. I felt lethargic and apathetic to a lot of stuff and never considered I'd be very good at anything--probably because I felt like I was already locked into a schedule and lifestyle that I would never be able to shake away. I think the book ignited something that had laid dormant for a while, and since then I've rediscovered more and more books that continue to excite and thrill me. Now I read, write and create at a breathless pace (compared to what I did years ago), and I consider myself to be a teacher and writer and I'd like to say a lot of the inspiration for 'living' came from the books I read, which really opened up my mind to the promise and impulse of creativity.
I hope this year goes very well. As a new teacher I of course have a ton of ideas about what I'd like to teach, some unique lessons I'd like to incorporate, and some radical assignments I'd like to implement--such as a blog, a webpage, a video for YouTube, some poster board projects, etc. Here's hoping it all turns out amazing and that the students are generally responsive. I think I have skin thick enough to know that many students will be apathetic to the work, many will be uninspired even though others may thrive in the environment, and there are some students that I have that, no matter how diligently I try, will never be receptive to my ideas and will never consider me one of their favorite teachers. My hope though, is that they do learn something in my class and take away perhaps some new vocabulary, ways to extrapolate themes from texts, methods for writing and creating, and a better eye and ear for grammatically correct sentences.
There's nothing more important in this world than education and inspiration.