We didn’t need to remember a house number. Sheryl’s yard is like the best piece of jewelry on the street, the lawn studded with wildflower stems popping through the snow. A horse blanket is flopped over the gate. When I got to the door, it was already opening and Buttercup the pug was snuffling up on me, while Sheryl and Bob ushered me in.
Sheryl is Montana’s newest Poet Laureate. You are my daughter, she told me on this visit, writing a note on her most recent book and insisting it into my hands. Then she said, I’m sick, otherwise I would cover you with kisses and pull your hair. She showed me necklaces she was making for an upcoming show, and looped one with colored glass beads around my neck. It’s called Flying Whimsy. Every time I see her, it is like this; a whirlwind of giving.
There is no doubt Sheryl is unusual. She is the person who roots always for the underdog. She turns children into poets – really – even the ones who sit in the back, who cross their arms or glare and refuse to participate in the exuberant examples of how to write poems involving Mike Tyson, her cat without an eye, and her husband Bob the Fireman. Later, these will become the most dedicated writers, awaiting her weekly arrival like puppies left at home.
You would probably not expect Sheryl if you were going to meet a state’s Poet Laureate, but very quickly, you would begin to see why she is so deserving of this title. Her presence explodes around you. Soon, you want to tell her every secret because you know not only that she drinks Peach Snapple and rescues dogs, but also that her life has not been easy, either.
To me, Sheryl is a reminder of the way I want to be in the world. Whatever I may do, whatever may matter to me most, if I do my work with honesty and passion, good will come, whether or not it was just what I was expecting.
A) When you see a five-pound sweet potato, buy it. Then bring it home, dance with it for exercise, dress it up and make fries.
- Don’t forget the turmeric.
B) Point out all the fallacies in your friends’ writing. They might like you less, but they might like you more, and their writing could even improve.
- This is called, “Doing the Tuttle.”
- It might be good to wait for them to ask.
C) Put twins to bed sometime. Also teach them to say “uh oh” when they drop things or fall down.
D) Pumpkin pie is the best pie.
This message is brought to you by The Twin Mobiles, for Rambunctious Babies Who Are Also Awake
Although this was explained a little bit already, but my failure to blog regularly over the last couple of weeks has led me to believe I should post a large number of essays I wrote and rejected throughout an attempt to “add to my application” for a particular law school.
I wrote nine in total, and will post around five because, well, there are always disasters. It’s all a matter of editing. And having a brain or whatever.
So that’s the Essay Reject Series. EXCITING.
Twice since arriving in Scotland, I have woken up with a slam nascent and pacing, on the perimeter of my consciousness. Even in the dark and the cold of my room, this is the muse and it gets me up writing.
Slam poetry is performance – natural territory for truth telling, the way most art is. That sleepy scrawl is just the beginning. What develops later is quick, tight phrasing, a vocal explosion, and then, in the fashion of traditional rhetoric, a gentle return to the repeated line. When the interaction of poem and performance is accomplished, it lands between image and emotion, making a case for something logical and occasionally preposterous. Emotional truths are not always logical, but the most powerful story or argument is both. Slam poetry is an ideal venue for truths so funny your belly aches from laughing, or so full of sorrow that breath catches in your throat. Sometimes truth leaves you running for cover.
Discipline cultivates the ability to recognize and grab hold of opportunities to render truth. I am learning to be ready for it, learning to channel its offerings in the wee hours, the minutes in transit between classes, even in the grocery store.
A good slam poet compels you to stand waist deep in a marsh, waiting cold for the punch line or resolution. I want to be a person who brings poetry to debate. I want to tell truth so it can be heard. I want to slam.
This is your reward for making it through Essay Reject #1. I realize you could skip directly to the reward, but that would be cheating, so I'm sure you didn't.
I have written nine. I will post the rejects later, after I turn in my application, maybe just to make up for the fact that I have been writing them instead of posting here.
It will be an opportunity for everyone to exercise grandma’s lesson: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” because writing nine 250-word essays all attempting to convince a prestigious law school that it should admit you is sort of like hanging from a tree by your toenails for 20 minutes at a time. The terrible part is that you think you’ve done your last twenty minutes and then some evil person (like that family member or friend who has generously devoted time to helping edit your work) tells you it’s time to reattach your toenails to the branch and you have to do it because you know they’re right.
There’s a chance this metaphor doesn’t work because hanging from tree branches by your toe nails doesn’t have much of an end-product besides a headache and emotional trauma.
The point is that everyone should be nice and ooh and ahh over the various attempts I made at trying to make myself sound smart, my life sound interesting, and my arguments sound. (See? that was funny — you didn’t know I was going to use ‘sound’ as an adjective there).
Anyway. Seasonal greeting time, right? Well, uh… Merry Christmas! And Happy Hanukkah! And… GO NEW YEAR’S!