For the “weekly writing challenge” on the Daily Post, I found this:
For this week’s writing challenge, we’re asking you to explore what age means to you. Is the the loss of youth, or the cultivation of wisdom? Do things get better as you grow older, or worse? There are many ways to interpret age, often depending on your relationship with the passing of time.
Since the title of my blog is inextricably linked to an “age” I figured I’d better respond! So what do I think of the most when I actually stop and ponder the word “age”? I think of teachers. I think of the people who have flowed in and out of my life at different stages, whether they were “formal” teachers or not, who have taught me the things which have changed me during my forty-some years.
Here’s a nerdy fact about me: I have always loved school. If I won the lottery today, I wouldn’t buy a dozen Prada bags. (oh wait, maybe I would…) No, I would go to all kinds of schools and learn all kinds of things. (ok so what if I chose some of those schools in exotic locales?! At least I’d have a nice bag to take with me 😉 ) Is that odd? In any case, I began reflecting on the teachers I’ve had through the years, and I chose one to tell you about. Since I started this blog somewhat to get back into writing, I’d like to tell you about one of my writing teachers.
Leonard “Red” Bird – I have provided a link, because this man was a great teacher and a great writer, and for a long time, a survivor of a bleak event in US history. I was fortunate to have taken a creative writing class from him. Looking back at my work from that time, I wonder how he managed to read all that emerging into adulthood drivel. I remember well the first day of class. There were only about 10 of us, because it was an upper-level class, and he kept them small. Again, I was fortunate! About grading, he told us, “Creative writing is a subjective topic. It works like this: if you finish all the assignments, you’ll have a C. If you finish all the assignments, and revise 80% of them, you’ll have a B. If you do all that, and I happen to like your work, you’ll get an A. Anybody who doesn’t like this method may drop the class today with no penalty.” We all worked our butts off for him. And I got an A-. I also had the privilege to hear him read his poem, “The Mourning Dove” in person. This film by Kurt Lancaster is a work of art about an artist and about a horrible part of our history. It’s worth 24 minutes of your time.
I will leave you with a haiku that I wrote during Red Bird’s class. I found a little collection of writing, printed out using a…dare I say it…dot matrix printer. They all have bits of writing wisdom hand-written in their margins. This is a haiku upon which he wrote, “very good haiku” so I’m pretty proud of these few syllables! I loved that on many of my assignments, he made very thoughtful comments and suggestions. He was a teacher who realized that writing is part of a person’s soul, no matter how immature, no matter how sheltered. He could shape the branches without destroying the essence of the tree. Alas, after a semester in this class, I still did not grow a “sense of line”, but even I came up with a phrase here and there which he found to his liking.
White silken petals,
Lilies bowing their heads in prayer
Young maids in Easter dresses.
And you, dear readers? Who are the special teachers in your life?