Whenever I use the term cross section, I think of a Rhetoric Center session where I tried to explain the term by saying, “If you think of America as a sausage—.” It didn’t go well, and my coworker put it on our quote board, adding insult to injury and cementing it in my memory forever. Anyways, these selections represent what my professional and personal twitter feeds have looked like over the past two or so months.

April was National Poetry Month, but what is poetry supposed to be, anyways?

 

Oftentimes when I go looking for spiritual poetry outside of Mary Oliver, I can’t find anything beyond super sanitized Christian verses. Kaveh Akbar helps me find other poets who think deeply and sometimes uncomfortably about faith, like this one. Honorable mention: “Angels” by Leila Chatti (who you may notice wrote the previous poem—yes I’m borrowing her new book from the library ASAP).

You don’t need my commentary on this video; however, I do want you to know that I have not given in and downloaded TikTok. Yet.

 

Pre-quarantine, I had the irresistible urge to bookmark all the things that I could be doing with my spare time in the hopes I would actually go back one day and do them. I thought in quarantine I would find the time to work through this backlog, but instead I just added more activities to the list. Exhibit A: free writing prompts that are interesting and evocative… and I probably won’t ever do them.

https://twitter.com/sparkysheep/status/1238755182692859904?s=20

But, you know, I actually did watch Carmen, the Globe Theatre’s version of Hamlet, The Phantom of the Opera, and the Sondheim 90 concert. They didn’t suffocate in my aspirational bookmarking.

A lot of ed people on EduTwitter shared a lot of resources which could help my teaching both in quarantine and when I’m back in the classroom. I probably won’t ever look at them.

 

After I ran across this comic, I scrolled back through my mom’s Twitter. I’ve been through it more than a couple times, scouring for nuggets of her even though it mostly exists as a testament to her continued commitment to professional development. On the way through, I bookmarked an article that she had retweeted about poetry and Jason Reynolds.

Earlier, there was a moment during my work meeting when my boss mentioned that she had been taking walks with her daughter everyday. She said, “It’s been good for the body, but it’s also been good for our bonding. Sometimes we work through what we’ve been needing to work through, but sometimes she just says, ‘So what do you want to talk about?’”

I watched myself bite back tears. The questions of what my mom would be doing in this quarantine had crossed my mind a few times, but at that moment, I realized we would have had the time to talk with no rush, like we did when on vacation in the woods of Raymond, NH.

These days, grief is less like a dull constant pain and more like a monthly kick to the chest, a bucket of ice water dumped on the head, a knife slid in between the ribs.

https://twitter.com/ValeriaBrownEdu/status/1253044900284825600?s=20

Val Brown, founder of #ClearTheAir, shared her daughter’s contribution for the #GettyMuseumChallenge (or Quarantine Art Challenge). It finally drove me to write up an assignment and create my own contribution to hopefully coax something out of my mostly silent middle school students.

Nate Marshall pretty much offers a free poetry class online. I did listen to one of the lectures and have read some of the essay, so I get half-credit for taking advantage of this.

I chuckled at this comic from the half of the couch where I have spent eighty-five percent of my waking hours for the last month and a half.

I have a semi-irrational love for Louise Glück after I almost wrote a paper tracing her use of words with Anglo-Saxon roots for Vanden Bosch. I’m not sure exactly what this poem means, but I don’t think we should be waving our “sociable / infested leaves in / the faces of other roses.”

At the beginning of quarantine, I was taking daily pictures and videos of my and my housemates’ shenanigans and putting it together in a vlog. I stopped after two weeks. This video makes me want to try again. 

“in my dreams / I am touching the faces of my friends, we are / each one of us touching, & even in the dream / we are afraid.”

Sometimes, people on social media are able to juxtapose two pieces of media in a way that makes you see them both in a new slant of light. I’m still thinking about this tweet, especially every time that I say I’m enjoying my extended free time.

I’m not sure how to categorize the cross section of life that Animal Crossing, particularly its newest installment New Horizons, appeals to. I’ve seen a wide variety of people playing this game: from my housemate, who I would classify as an average gamer, to my sister’s best friend from high school, who cares about theater, books, and LGBT+ representation, to my cousins across the country to leaders in English education. My personal Twitter is full of screenshots of people’s beautiful islands and discourse about the best villagers.

This comic feels different from most of the typical AC:NH media. This protagonist looks tired and jaded; they’re not sure why they took the time to buy this game only to craft furniture, catch bugs, and talk to programmed animals whose dialogue lands just shy of a real conversation. The question “Is this even worth it, since these characters aren’t real?” hums beneath the simple sketches.

“Despite what you have been led to believe, yes,” is Midge’s clear response.

The comic’s starkness and surety reminds me of “the moon asks a question”—a comic that I’ve had open on my phone for months. The moon goes around and around, asking other celestial bodies whether she is in love. In the end, she realizes she has to go straight to the source.

As I get older, I feel fuller and fuller of the complexity of life and more and more desperate to explore and explain ad nauseam these complexities in my work. But perhaps the juxtaposition of complex questions and simple vehicles make these questions even more striking.

“Is this love?”

“Wouldn’t you want to be something so grand?”

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    You are your Mother’s daughter! You are smart, insightful, generous in your thinking and actions, thoughtful, funny, kind, and remarkable. You made me think, rejoice, laugh, and cry.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Love you, Linda. I only hope to be a fraction of the beautiful person she was 🙂

      Reply
  2. Kathryn Van Zanen

    that first poem stunned me. Thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
  3. Avatar

    I love the way it pokes fun at poetry tropes and then does a heel-face turn and is like, “Actually, yeah there’s a reason why everyone writes about this.” Glad you enjoyed it as well.

    Reply
  4. Kyric Koning

    Anything that gets people to start to think about other perspectives gets a win in my book. Way to go, Twitter. Looks like you get a point this time…

    Reply

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