Celebrate: How Language is Our Doing

Time to Celebrate the Week with Ruth Ayers. Thank you Ruth for this weekly space. It centers me around what is and was good; pulls me towards the growth of good; pushes me to capitalize on strength. Find more celebration posts here.

celebrate link up

One: An email from our son. Love his words.

Greetings from Morocco!

Just kidding. Hello from San Sebastian! The water is incredibly clear here, the beaches beautiful, the Basque countryside a natural wonder, the tapas a culinary adventure. . There’s always something just over the horizon, ready to unveil itself. I also bought The Great Gatsby in Paris and fell back in love with the story and the writing. I’ve already read it twice, going on a third.

Two:  A wonderful dinner with Elsie (aka Leann Carpenter). Lovely Leann who so graciously invited me to meet her for dinner and then waited too long for me to get through Los Angeles traffic. It was a beautiful California summer night as you can see.  It’s so fun to meet a fellow blogger in the flesh. We know so much about each other based on written words. To be able to hear those words and share a meal is a such a treat.  Wonderful to be with you Leann, I owe you one!

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Three: Brown Girl Dreaming showed up on my doorstep. I ordered it in June, after I heard Jacqueline Woodson speak at TCRWP’s Summer Reading Institute and it does not disappoint. It is quite simply, beautiful. Each chapter is a masterpiece that can stand on its own. I am half way through, the pages fly by, and I keep circling back to savor certain parts.

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Below are a few excerpts that  hit me; made me think of  my current students and of the many students who have read and struggled to read in my classroom.

Woodson is a born storyteller and her love affair with words is clear, but reading words was a struggle as a child. Living in the academic shadow of her gifted older sister, this passage from “Gifted” pulls at my heart.

She is gifted

we are told.

And I imagine presents surrounding her.

I am not gifted. When I read, the words twist

twirl across the page.

When they settle it’s too late.

The class has moved on

I want to catch words one day. I want to hold them

then blow gently,

watch them float

right out of my hands.

Reading is such an amazing and personal process.  Those who “get it,” like Jacqueline’s sister, seem to have a magical gift that is elusive for those who come to reading in a different way and on a different time table. Such a reminder to honor and wait for readers like Jacqueline; making sure we don’t leave them behind.

And this excerpt from “Believing”  reminds me to understand and give some room for writers whose personal narratives seems a little less than true.

It’s hard to understand

the way my brain works–so different

from everybody around me.

How each story

I’m told becomes a thing

that happens,

in some other way

to me….!

This from “Composition Notebook” made the composition notebook buyer in me smile and reminds me to look for those gifts in my students I “can’t begin to understand.”

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Four: Students writing whatever they want for 15 minutes every morning. Friday, I walked around the classroom surveying what they were writing about. I found:

  • four in the moment observing the goings on in the classroom.
  • one was a stream of thought,
  • one all about what he was good at,
  • three continued their work from the day before,
  • one fairy tale,
  • one informational writing on rubber (yes, rubber),
  • one was a reflection on lying,
  • nine personal narratives,
  • one all about dogs,
  • two I don’t know what to write/have much to say writing,
  • one writing about “Brave” by Sara Bareilles,
  • one wondering about what would happen today.
  • two theme park narratives,
  • two what I’m going to do this weekend

I want to celebrate the diversity of writing. The choices that were made freely and without prompting. The fact that some didn’t know what to write, but wrote anyway. I want to celebrate the beginnings of a writerly life.

Five:  Finally, a link to the most recent On Being  blog and podcast that features Marie Howe, the state poet of New York. I listened to the podcast today and find her and her views of our world stunningly down to earth and necessary.  One big aha was how “doing” in our current world is  dominated by language, and hence the importance and power in it. Click on the link above and enjoy her poetry, storytelling and thinking on language, happiness, being present, and family,

Happy long weekend to you all.


9 thoughts on “Celebrate: How Language is Our Doing

  1. I am always amazed at the diversity of what students write about when given freedom to choose their topics. In my Comp class this week, we watched Sarah Kay’s wonderful TED talk, If I should have daughter, and then we wrote. The four people who shared had all written such incredibly different pieces. I need to find out where my copy of Brown Girl Dreaming is because I am so eager to read it!!

  2. Brown Girl Dreaming arrived for me this week as well. Isn’t it a special gift? You have opened up a wonderful writing time for your students. They are already spreading their wings.

  3. It was such a treat to meet you this week! It is always a treat to read your thoughts and moments of celebration. Love the email from your son, what a sense of humor! I must read this book that has so many talking. How interesting that she did not feel gifted. Her writing is so powerful!

  4. I met Elsie this summer at All Write – isn’t she just what you expected! Funny and down-to-earth and wonderful! I loved BGD and can’t wait to get my own copy! So many beautiful lines to savor and tuck into my writing heart. I love the thought of writing every day for 15 minutes! It must be so much fun walking around and see their words. What a way to start the day!

  5. I’m wondering if ‘Brown Girl Dreaming’ might be a suitable book for my 12 year old nephew who struggles with reading and whose ‘brain works differently’ from that of others. What do you think? it sounds a delightful read. Like the others commenting on this post, I think the 15 minutes of independent writing sounds marvelous – and what a wonderful assortment of topics! 🙂

    • Norah,
      I think Jackie Woodson’s work is perfect for strugglers because she leaves lots of room on the page. It is visually easy on the eyes. It is easy to take in. The concepts are big but the space on each page allows for it. This is her autobiography and her journey to find herself as a young person. Locomotion is another novel by Woodson total in verse about a boy New York who is struggling with the loss of his parents. Has he tried Love That Dog by Sharon Creech?

      • Thanks so much for replying with that added information. It sounds very interesting and as if the book may be a suitable read for my nephew. I’m not sure that the one about the boy who has lost his parents would be suitable, and I am not aware of Love that Dog. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the suggestions. 🙂

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