Saturday, February 21, 2009

Keep the modest flows for practice

My Intro to Lit class is over on Monday. Sigh. This was actually an awesome class. We read Barbara Jane Reyes' West Oakland Sutra for the AK-47 Shooter at 3:00am and other Oakland poems, as well as, Claudia Rankine's, Don't Let Me Be Lonely. There were a lot of good discussion in regards to Rankine, but the Reyes seem a little bit more difficult- or so I thought. To my surprise & delight a lot of their last papers & answers for the finals all talk about Reyes' poems. I think it took longer for them to digest the complexity of her work, but I feel good knowing that this beautiful chapbook has imprinted itself upon so many of their brains.

While they working on their finals, I finished reading Eric Baus' newest book. It's better than you think! Buy it.


Barbara Jane Reyes said...

Hey there, thank you so much for teaching my chapbook. I really appreciate it! I am glad to hear that some of your students found something interesting to write about there. Would love to hear more!

Thank you again.

steven karl said...

We also read Hughes' "Harlem (A Dream Deferred)" & some of the students compared the ideas or ideals of the "American Dream" looking through the lens of your work and Hughes. Another student wrote about Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," and compared it to the singing/hymns in your poems.

We also watched the film Ordinary People and some discussed class expectations between the white- upper-middle-class vs the Oakland "lower-class" which lead to the questioning of what is "ordinary" what is "humanistic" & how does this filter through the concept of "America?"

97% of my students weren't born in the states so with a new President they are interested in the "concept" vs "lived experience" that is America.

steven karl said...

I should mention that we read MLK's speech, as well as, the Declaration of Independence, in conjunction with some Martin Espada poems which forgrounded the discussions of the "American Dream" then once the wheels were spinning I eased in a little BJR.