Friday, September 04, 2009

promptly written

Here's what I fed the high school urchins today. We're reading Steve Lopez' The Soloist; for those few who may not know its story, SL recounts his friendship and journey with Mr. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. At the book's beginning, Mr. Ayers is living on the streets of Los Angeles, in the shadow of the Beethoven statue in Pershing Square, trying to recapture the musical prowess that landed him at Julliard thirty years earlier, but was shattered through his spiraling down through paranoid schizophrenia. Mr. Ayers is given to soaring flights of oratory that sail through the likes of Yo-Yo Ma, Colonel Sanders, Mickey Mantle, the ubiquitous Ludwig, and children flying over the rooftops of the Toy District.

I was interested in having the urchins look at language and context. We first looked at two passages of Nathaniel "oratory" and then two poems from the French surrealists (in this case, Eluard and Desnos). If you were simply looking at langauge, E & D win hands down for lunacy.

The assignment was to write a 200-word paragraph of language that cousined Nathaniel's, to explore how those flights might sound, how they might form, how they might feel.

Here was mine (those who know me know that this was no great stretch):

Buford T. Vegemite
English I
September 4, 2009


The King he bled Colonel Sanders all down the VoogaBoom, he wonders why we jiffy pop the last little bit of diaper rash off the skylines of Cleveland. Whiffle ball for breakfast, syrup drip drippy on the fantastic planet, I was down the Jezebel Flower Shoppe, shopping for choppy chop for my Colonel Sanders. Sun Ra rose up into the dawn of Beethoven, went down the aquarium for Midas BrakeFast, we do our work without thinking, we finish before you ask, we open season on the 45th of July. I ask you, have you ever seen the back side of a back flip, have you ever seen blue jeans scream their halo twiggies, or do you want to paint the floors of your porch swing blue. Am I blue, am I you, are you flying the Brackenridge Eagle train through the intersections of Broadway and Lime in my vicious mind. Hallalooey! Next stop, the geisha girl Gemini Ink Colonel Buford Sanders Express. I gets my tickets and barbecues sauce down at the Five and Dime, and I am ever dying for a dime to call the rest of you ponies, if you want to call out the rest of your days, then go pace your art where Linda comes swinging round the bend.



Blogger Dee Martin said...

Hallalooey! I would love to see the backside of a backflip but at my age it would mean surgery and traction. Would love me some key lime pie on any Florida beach bout now though. Hope the urchins are having fun with the halo twiggies. Twiggie looked a bit like an anorexic angel but she wouldn't know how to play halo now would she?

6:26 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: I have urchins who didn't miss a beat with this assignment and others, who struggle to be coherent in their own written sentence structures, who kept trying to make their passages make narrative sense. It was funny to watch. Of course, the added bonus here was that this was one assignment where proofreading was entirely unnecessary - for them or me.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Teresa said...

Wish you had been my high school English teacher. This assignment looks fun!

10:05 PM  
Blogger Dee Martin said...

I should have been in this class. My tired brain is unable to proofread or even stay with one coherent thought. The weekend is a welcome halftime from one of those games that just seems to go on forever and I feel like I took one too many hits to the head. Hope you post some excerpts from the urchins. I know how they feel. It's difficult to let go but such a wonderful surprise if you can and it flows out and becomes, well, something?

10:19 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Teresa: It was fun, and it's never too late.

11:06 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Dee: Like swimmers holding tight to the pool's edge until then they see how much fun it is to jump on in and careen with the rest of us.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Teresa said...

Well, I do come to the online version regularly and post my homework faithfully...

12:37 PM  

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