Trifles

Back in freshman year in college for lit class we were asked to do a shrinklit poem where we shrink an entire story (play, novel, short story) into a poem. We were given Trifles by Susan Glaspell, and here is my shrinklit poem (edited already). I’m sharing it because I got a 3.8/4 for this assignment (essentially an A–my first one in that class). Considering I disliked writing poetry this was a huge achievement for me.

PLAYING AROUND WITH ‘TRIFLES’

Mrs. Wright was jailed for murdering her spouse
Right in the bedroom of their dreary house.
He lay in bed with a rope ‘round his neck
So the sheriff and attorney went to check
To see if there were clues left behind
To tell why murder crossed her mind.
The ladies, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale,
(who went along with the lawful males)
found little trifles in the gloomy kitchen:
cloth for a quilt and jars that were broken.
A bird cage, too, with a broken door.
The bird that the cage was originally for
Was found all dead and oh, what gore!
Its neck was wrung.  ‘Twas a sight so sore!

The bird was Mrs. Wright’s only pet
And the ladies were all too willing to bet
That Mr. Wright killed the poor li’l bird
So the wife, her mind with pent-up anger blurred,
Killed the husband to avenge the bird.
Finally knowing what she went through,
The ladies felt pity (and compassion too).
So they decided to hide the dead bird
From the questioning eyes of the law and its board.
They walked away, the bird in a pocket
Scared but determined. On that you can bet.

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E.M. Tippets

I am reading her (his?) book Someone Else’s Fairytale as a break from all the fantastic creatures of Pratchett’s world, and I have mixed feelings about this book. I’m not yet done–I’ve been reading  for three hours now, but I skipped whole chapters because… I can’t tell if I just can’t wait for the ending because I’m excited or it got too boring and I just want it over with.

Maybe it’s both.

And now on Google I find out that there are two more stories after this one.

WHY? I’m close to the end of this first book, and it seems like a pretty open-and-shut case/story/whatever to me.

Okay. Now I’m just disgruntled. I think I’ll go back to Pratchett again now.

My history with books

My mom is a reader–not a huge one, but she was the first one to encourage me to begin and continue reading. She and my dad got us this whole ten-volume collection of texts, but the only one I really loved was volume #3, which contained oh so many stories from fairy tales to absurd ones to classic shorts to legends to OH. MY. GOD. I just want to read them all again.

I had this, and I read this. 😀

 

Then my mom bought me my first pop culture novel: Sweet Valley. I forget, though, if it had been a Kids or Twins book. Either way, I got hooked. I borrowed every single one we had in the library, and I borrowed whatever I could from classmates–never mind that I was in no way close to them. I had books they wanted to borrow and vice versa. The books brought us together.

I remember during Intramurals (week-long sports activities) that fellow bookworms and I would sit along the hallways instead of cheering on batchmates as they went head to head with other levels because we preferred to read. I had an endless supply of Sweet Valley (Kids, Twins, High, University, Saga), Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitters’ Club, Sweet Dreams, Love Stories and probably some less known other book series.

I also remember that when my mom gave me my first Nancy Drew book, we were on our way to Cebu. It was an overnight journey by ship, so I had my new book to keep me company. 🙂 Before that time, I had been reading only the Nancy Book stories from the library–the hard-bound classic ones–and then my mom got me my first “contemporary” Nancy Drew paperback. I was giddy beyond compare. On the way to the port I had already been sneaking peeks at the pages. I had to do it secretly because my mom wouldn’t let me read in the car because she said it would ruin my eyes (and she was right, huhu), but when we were on the ship and settled in, I had that book out quicker than Superman could catch a speeding bullet. I was done long before we had stepped off the ship the next day.

I don’t remember much anymore of the different book titles I read in my youth, only that they were mainly Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew books.

I started reading more serious stuff when I got to high school. I remember reading Austen’s Persuasion after I graduating from grade school (I think) and Pride and Prejudice a few years later. I didn’t understand them, to be honest, mainly because Austen’s prose was too much to handle for a pre-teen. I watched the movies when I got copies, and they helped me understand the stories when I read them again.

When it was time to apply for college, I was torn between taking up Psych or Literature or Japanese Studies–all these being my main interests at that point in my life. It was when my senior English teacher commended me on an essay that I decided to go for Lit. In hindsight, I realize that I only chose Lit because I loved to read. When it was time to read those tough but beautiful stories and critique and analyze them, I found myself way out of my league.

I persevered and survived. I discovered a love for children’s literature and young adult stories, but it didn’t mean I had turned my back on the more “serious” literature. Right now I have DFW’s Infinite Jest on my TBR pile. I’m 50 something pages in and I’m nowhere close to making a dent in this tome. Among the books on my TBR pile are Chocolat, Lolita, and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Um. Yeaaaah. The only reason I still haven’t cracked these books open is that I’m not sure I’m ready for the earth-shattering emotions I’m sure I would encounter. There’s something intimidating about emotions, isn’t there?

If there’s one thing about literature I love, it’s that it makes me think and imagine and FEEL, no matter how strong the emotion is. Literature is true, and it is powerful, and I love it.

 

Shakespeare and I

Been reading Shakespeare recently to prepare for class, and I realized that it wasn’t Shakespeare himself I hated but his characters.

Especially the ones in his tragedies.

Take Romeo and Juliet. Just absolute stupidity running through their heads which got them and people they care for dead. This is why I’m having so much trouble planning for class: I hate the text.

And then you realize how brilliant Shakespeare is because you still feel passionately about his work hundreds of years later.

More on reading and literature

My friend Abner’s post on Lang Leav and literature had me thinking of two things: ideas to expose our students to beautiful poetry and wonderful literature, and my own literary backstory.

Pasabog/An Explosion of Literature

As I was reading aforementioned post, particularly the part about having a school environment that exposed and encouraged students to literature, ideas on what we could do to foster such love for the written word. We recently concluded our Literacy Month activities during which we turned classrooms into “living” books of popular authors (Bibliofy activity for high school); featured Bible stories and locally penned literature in the grade school bulletin boards; invited children’s book authors to give talks; invited parents to hold storytelling sessions to the kids; and come to school in costume (featuring literary characters!). The feedback from the students was resoundingly positive, and the students have given us more ideas and tips on what to do the following year.

Because of such a reception, I’m encouraged to continue promoting literacy and love for reading. Abner’s post made me imagine school filled with poetry from floor to ceiling. I saw “graffiti” on the walls and floor featuring lines from Shakespeare famous poems or plays, quotes from Austen’s or Nabokov’s or the Bronte sisters’ or Eliot’s works; I can see the canteen tables stenciled with lines from Dahl or Seuss or–let’s not forget local writers–Rizal or Joaquin. Grade school corridors would see paintings of local children’s book covers or characters from Darna or Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel or any of Rene O. Villanueva’s stories.

"Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" Click to go to official website of publisher.

“Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel”
Click to go to official website of publisher.

Grade 3 students recreated "Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel" on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

Grade 3 students recreated “Ang Pambihirang Buhok ni Raquel” on their bulletin board using recycled materials for Literacy Month. Photo by Darrel Marco

(Ooooooh I could pee in my pants right now from this excitement!)

This is a HUGE undertaking that possibly requires a HUGE amount of funds, which, unfortunately, we don’t have, but I’m not about to give this up just yet. I can wait and come up with alternative literary appreciation activities. I’ve got a poetry reading activity and Shakespeare street theater lined up for approval this coming final academic quarter, and a dedication paper roses suggestion (dunno how this is gonna work yet, but I’m excited!) from a colleague that we can use to both raise funds for the different school organizations and a way to promote literature. And then Literacy Month, National Children’s Book Day, and Buwan ng Wika (Filipino Month) are all annual events that we celebrate, so there is no shortage of institutional literary appreciation activities.

I believe this now begs the question of how do we encourage or foster a love for reading INSIDE the classroom? Heaven knows it’s next to impossible to get EVERY single student to love reading in just one school year, but a teacher can and will always try. This is one goal of teaching that I feel I have not fully accomplished, for I still have students who skip required reading material and go for online summaries or ask classmates for details on what happened.

Can you imagine if reading were promoted on a grand scale?! We’d have readers and readers and more readers!

This brings me to my second thought: my personal literary backstory.

However, given the length of this blog post already, I think I’ll save that for another day. 🙂

In defense of Lang Leav

Facebook is a haven for both the inspiring and infuriating. Today I saw the latter on my feed, and this particular one has spurred me to blog.
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   Obviously, this is a screencap of a conversation between two people. I paste it here because it was shared on Instagram and Facebook, which I take to mean it’s for sharing with people. However, since the accounts this was shared on are private, I shall not divulge the name of the person who said this nor of the one who posted it. I merely want to share the cause of my irk.
   One of the poster’s comments was this:
She’s “good” (in the sense that she reached the minimum requirements to be considered “good”) but the way that people are gaga over her work…..parang…people, she’s not THAT good! Her pieces are half-baked and are so….meh…. There are a LOT of better authors out there.
Parang si Cara Delevigne. Di naman ganoon talaga kaganda pero ang daming naloloka sa kanya. (Like Cara Delevigne. She’s not really that beautiful, but a lot go gaga over her.)
   I asked the poster what “the minimum requirements to be considered good” were, and the reply to me was the following:
I am not in a position to answer that since I do not find anything I like in her work And I was told that <college literary portfolio> people do not like her work
   I like Lang Leav’s work. You could say that I’m a fan, but in no way do I go crazy over her work. However, I do recognize the “merit” in her poetry. Her words are plain. Her rhyme and rhythm simple. Her metaphors and figurative language easily comprehensible. She is no Nick Joaquin, Vladimir Nabokov (have you read his love letters?), or Pablo Neruda, BUT her poetry is able to reach people, which is more than I can say for Shakespeare, who, for all his brilliance, easily alienates potential lovers of literature.
   Lang Leav’s work is great material for introducing people to the beauty of poetry. I accept that she’s not the be-all and end-all of poetry, but I believe it’s no reason to decry her work. My students have come to appreciate poetry because of her work, and they’ve opened up to the possibility of more complex literature because they weren’t immediately turned off.
   THIS, my dear friends, is why I will always defend Lang Leav.
//edit
Here are two other opinions on Lang Leav, her work, and of “accessible literature.”

NaBloPoMo: Lazy Mondays

I don’t want to follow the prompt for this day, so I’ll just leave this on here.

It’s been a very slow 2014 for me.

 

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