Hurricane by Mary Oliver
It didn’t behave
like anything you had
ever imagined. The wind
tore at the trees, the rain
fell for days slant and hard.
The back of the hand
to everything. I watched
the trees bow and their leaves fall
and crawl back into the earth.
As though, that was that.
This was one hurricane
I lived through, the other one
was of a different sort, and
lasted longer. then
I felt my own leaves giving up and
falling. The back of the hand to
everything. But listen now to what happened
to the actual trees;
toward the end of that summer they
pushed new leaves from their stubbed limbs.
It was the wrong season, yes
but they couldn’t stop. They
looked like telephone poles and didn’t
care. And after the leaves came
blossoms. For some things
there are no wrong seasons.
Which is what I dream of for me.
"This is why you don't troll a literary genius."
TO: Robert D. Clark38 W 59th St.New York City
Feb 9th 1920
Your letter riled me to such an extent that I’m answering immediatly. Who are all these ‘real people’ who ‘create business and politics’? and of whose approval I should be so covetous? Do you mean grafters who keep sugar in their ware houses so that people have to go without or the cheap-jacks who by bribery and high-school sentiment manage to controll elections. I can’t pick up a paper here without finding that some of these ‘real people’ who will not be satisfied only with ‘a brilliant mind’ (I quote you) have just gone up to Sing Sing for a stay—Brindell and Hegerman, two pillars of society, went this morning.
Who in hell ever respected Shelley, Whitman, Poe, O. Henry, Verlaine, Swinburne, Villon, Shakespeare ect when they were alive. Shelley + Swinburne were fired from college; Verlaine + O Henry were in jail. The rest were drunkards or wasters and told generally by the merchants and petty politicians and jitney messiahs of their day that real people wouldn’t stand it And the merchants and messiahs, the shrewd + the dull, are dust—and the others live on.
Just occasionally a man like Shaw who was called an immoralist 50 times worse than me back in the 90ties, lives on long enough so that the world grows up to him. What he believed in 1890 was heresy then—by by now its almost respectable. It seems to me I’ve let myself be dominated by ‘authorities’ for too long—the headmaster of Newman, S.P. A, Princeton, my regiment, my business boss—who knew no more than me, in fact I should say these 5 were all distinctly my mental inferiors. And that’s all that counts! The Rosseaus, Marxes, Tolstois—men of thought, mind you, ‘impractical’ men, ‘idealist’ have done more to decide the food you eat and the things you think + do than all the millions of Roosevelts and Rockerfellars that strut for 20 yrs. or so mouthing such phrases as 100% American (which means 99% village idiot), and die with a little pleasing flattery to the silly and cruel old God they’ve set up in their hearts.
Talk of the Townie: Burt Francis
By Andrew Bargh
According to Burt Francis, his grandfather (also named Burt Francis) was either extremely frugal, or extremely cruel. At least that was what he assumed when the assignments started rolling in. The summer after 7th grade it was nails.
Grandfather Burt ran a construction business at the time. He had just torn down several old barns, and was salvaging what he could of the materials. That evening hecame home with four kegs overflowing with bent nails. “I got a job for you,” he told his grandson, indicating the barrels. “Whatever ain’t straight enough to use are coming right back here.”
Some cool people starting a cool project. I’m not gonna lie, this project sets all my small town feels going.
Rethinking the Literature Classroom
“This isn’t an indictment. Writer Richard Ford found himself teaching literature as a graduate assistant in 1969 and realized, “What seemed worthwhile to teach was what I felt about literature … [literature] had mystery, denseness, authority, connectedness, closure, resolution, perception, variety, magnitude — value in other words … Literature appealed to me. But I had no idea how to teach its appealing qualities, how to find and impart the origins of what I felt.” This is a difficult question.
With the guidance of his mentor, Ford discovered access to these origins through the formal aspects of literature, its elements. He discovered a way in by asking, What formal feature of any given text is most significant? Too often — and I have been complicit — students are not pushed beyond this noticing of formal features. More than a decade of pressure from the paradoxically-named No Child Left Behind legislation has only exacerbated the problem by privileging the easily quantifiable, the standard. Derrick Jensen argues that the process of standardization is one of turning the living into the dead. The standard for a fish, he points out, is a fish stick. What is the standard for a novel … Sparknotes? Cliff Notes?”