Monday, April 29, 2013

REWRITING TEXTS




Revision is writing.

A lot of writing is actually rewriting.

Developing ideas and writing them down, writing persistently, maintaining writing stamina. These are all important.

But rereading, re-seeing, re-visioning-- revising what we have initially written is a core part of writing and equally as important.

And what do we revise?

I am not talking about just correcting spelling or adding capital letters or sticking in commas that have been omitted. These are all surface level changes and are accomplished as we edit our writing.

Writing is about making choices as we put words down on paper or type onto our screens. 
Revision and rewriting is about carefully examining those choices and the effect they have in our total composition.

Revision involves looking at our writing again, and making changes that improve the writing--changes in meaning or content, structure or style, word choice or tone, and so forth.

Revision means making deep changes in how the writing will be read by others, how it will be deconstructed and then reconstructed by our readers, how it will affect others, .

As we write we are asking ourselves among other things:
Am I saying what I intend to say? 
Am I saying it clearly?
Am I saying if effectively, as well as beautifully?
Am I including all of the information that my reader will need?
In other words, we ask writer's questions. We are attempting to communicate our ideas and feelings and beliefs, and share information. How well dare we doing this?

As we re-consider or reread our writing, we ask a different set of questions-- reader's questions:
Does it mean what I intend it to mean? 
Does this sound the way I want it to sound?
Does it look the way I want it look?

Georgia Heard in the Revision Toolbox:: Teaching Techniques that Work, puts it this way:
Ultimately, the point of learning about revision is to learn how to help our writing match more accurately what's in our hearts. ( p.x)

Rewriting may mean that we need to enter or exit our piece in a different way--rewriting our lead or our closing. 

Rewriting may mean that sections, paragraphs, sentences, or words need to be rearranged--so we cut and paste (either literally or digitally.)

It may mean that a word is replaced with a more accurate, descriptive or specific word.

Revisions may occur in the way we tell our story--whose voice? which perpspective? whose point of view?  Whose story are we  telling?  From which angle? 

On his website, Ralph Fletcher offers young writers ideas about writing, including ideas for revising.  Click here to read his tips.

Every aspect of expressing your thoughts may be reconsidered, revised, rewritten.
Each writer has particular ways of  accompishing this crucial part of writing.

Kate Messner gives us a glimpse into effective strategies that professional writers use in Real Revision: Author's Strategies to Share with Student Writers. For each revision strategy she introduces, she also introduces us to several mentor authors who share their expertise, personal strategies, and helpful hints. 

Once of the most important statements she makes in her first chapter is Revision is hard.

I can attest to this fact.  Having finished drafting my book, the real work--the hard work--began in the revision process.  In a box in my basement there must be at least 7 iterations of the entire book, as well as many versions of specific sections.  Some versions I still revisit and use.  They contain sections, elements or information  that was removed in later versions, but that occasionally I need to use in the original, although deleted or revised state.

Messner says:
Revision is where stories start to sing. Where lumpy writing gets smoothed out and where good writing turn into great writing.  It's the part where the real magic happens.

So how do we revise?
How do we decide which ideas stay and which need to go?
How do we think about our writing and reconcile
what we intended to say
with what is actually on the paper or the screen?
How do we re-see, re-envision, revise what we have written?
What will make our words pop and jump – rising from the page
to reach our readers at their core?
How do we revise?



Revision is hard.

But revision is necessary.

Revision is writing.



Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Select a draft or unfinished piece of writing.

Reflect on the purposes and intent of this writing. 

What effect do you want this writing to have on your readers?

Consider this writing in light of some of the questions and revision issues raised above.

How do you re-envision this piece to most effective, accurately, clearly communicate your ideas and intentions?

Rewrite your piece making changes that will transform your good writing into extraordinary writing.













Friday, April 26, 2013

WHEN I AM OLD WITH YOU

I got my Golden Buckeye Card in the mail the other day.


I am turning 60 next month.

For those outside of Ohio, this card is the key to all senior benefits in our state-- all discounts, special deals, and elderly offers-- and it also doubles as a prescription card. 

The Golden Buckeye Card ushers in your golden years.   So receiving it in the mail is significant. It signals a shift in your personal demographics, a transformation in the way society will classify and see you,  and also an acceleration of the hands on the clock keeping your time.

I laughed when I opened the envelope and saw what it contained.  A laugh of acknowledgement and recognition, surprise and disbelief, acceptance and knowing.

What does aging mean in our society today?

I certainly don't feel 60---and have been told that I don't look 60 either.

What does 60 actually look like?

For me as a young child, it used to mean grey hair, grandchildren, canes, and retirement.  It used to mean long hair in buns, and spectacles, arthritis and false teeth.  It also meant expanding girth or withered bodies and shrinking height. It meant black tie-up shoes with chunky heels and a faint older of a perfume from a distant century.

I look at my friends-- and our parents for that matter--and although some of these elements may be present, it looks different.

It doesn't look like my connotations of 60.

For children, ideas about aging vary---either they think you are very old, when you are not really.  Like my students who would believed I was 50 or 60 when I was in my twenties.  Or there are those who don't recognize the aging and are surprised to find out your advancing age. You are older than my mother (or grandmother), they exclaim in shock.


In When I Am Old With You by Angela Johnson, a little girl enjoys her granddaddy's company and speculates about the fun they will have and the activities in which they will engage when she is "old with him."


In Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, we follow the growth of a baby boy to manhood and the unwavering love of his mother for him as he grows.  She gathers him in her arms and sings him  the following song through each stage in his life:


I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.


In the end (spoiler), when she is too weak to finish the song, having aged along with him, he gathers her in his arms and sings to her:


I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my mom you’ll be.

To watch a video of the book  with Robert Munsch, himself as  the narrator, click here.

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 Even when we are not very old, anticipating, dreading, or otherwise thinking about our age is universal.   

As children we anxiously look forward to our birthdays--some hold more significance than others for various reasons. We start school at 5. We drive at 16 . We graduate and, perhaps, leave home at 18.  

Billy Collins helps us think like a nine-year-old anticipating his tenth birthday in his poem, On Turning Ten.  He laments leaving childish things behind as he enters the realm of double digits:

...This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number...
 All is not doom and gloom, however, as we age.  

There are some definite advantages to becoming older. 

 For one thing, speaking your mind, which I have always done, regardless of my age, is more accepted/expected when you are older.  Saying exactly what you want to say, and doing exactly what you want to do is okay.

We determine not to leave undone those ambitious "want to's" and release silly " have-to's" and embrace our aging with gratitude and grace.

This liberating attitude is expressed magnificently in When I am an Old Woman  I Shall Wear Purple edited by Sandra Hardeman Martz. 


The title of this book is taken from the poem of that same name by Jenny Joseph and begins:



I shall wear purple 
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me, 
and I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves 
and satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter. 
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired 
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells 
and run my stick along the public railings 
and make up for the sobriety of my youth. ..... 
You can read the entire poem along with other poems about aging here on Library Thing.com.

Additional poems about aging can be found here at Poets.Org.

So I got my Golden Buckeye Card.
I am turning 60 next month.

The same day, almost immediately after I opened that envelope, I went out to run my errands for the day.  The first stop was the gas station.  There a car pulled up next to me as I was returning to my car.  A young man rolled down his window, and said to me You look goooood in that black!  The "black" that I wore is below- -simple black jeans and a knit shirt.


I laughed as I thanked him.

A laugh of acknowledgement and recognition, surprise and disbelief, acceptance and  knowing. 

I turn 60 next month.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibility 

Think about your current age and the process of aging.

What ages were most significant for you?  Why?

Write a reflection about aging personally or aging in general.
Your reflection may take the form of a poem or essay or personal narrative.

What did you discover as you wrote about aging?










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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

LESSONS IN THE BLOG

What has blogging taught me?


As of April 16, I have officially been a blogger for three months.

What have I learned?

One of my main concerns when I began this writing adventure was sustaining my own momentum and interest, as well as the commitment to writing regularly. 

What would I write about?

When would I write?

Carving out the time to actually get the words onto the paper or the computer screen, or more importantly, into the blog template is sometimes tricky--  tricky like securing Internet access in a foreign country or writing around the sun and the delicious beach in Aruba, or working around the same busy schedule that everyone I know has.

Yet,  I have found that writing regularly has become a habit-- a good habit, almost an addiction. 

I am not well, not content, if I miss a day of writing. 

I am not talking about finishing a piece of writing each day, or producing a publish-ready piece-- but rather, the activityof moving words around, manipulating ideas, and exploring and discovering what I think--and what others think-  through writing. 

My worries about what I would write were unfounded.  

My blogging friends and mentors had assured me this would be the case--they had assured me I would have plenty about which to write. They were right.

Adhering to deadlines and commitments to produce, even if they are of my own making, seemed daunting and paralyzed my confidence initially.

Would the ideas come when I needed them?

What have I discovered?

Writing ideas arrive unbidden.

Throughout the day, true to my theory about the four sources of  writing ideas in my book, Deeper Writing: Quick Writes and Mentor Texts to Illuminiate New Possibilities, I have found
more than I could possibly ever write about in the context, content, containers, and 
container linings of my own life  and life around me.

I always have something to write about, something  waiting next on the writing deck, and an idea or two about to arrive in some fuzzy,  as of yet unformed, manner.

I am pleased and privileged to live in what Donald Graves called a constant state of composition--that is, I am thinking about writing all the time, even when I am not actually writing.  Writing ideas are constantly swirling, conjugating,  and being born.  

What else have I learned?
I don't always write what I set out to write or intend to write.

I find I veer off  to where the writing takes me. 

One item on my ongoing list of possible topics was Three Kinds of People.  I intended to consider ordinary, everyday activities, events and groups--but then the Boston Marathon bombing occurred and it catapulted the notion of three kinds of people to a whole new level.

Also on my list was examining what we read and write in particular situtations, but as our nation witnessed  a series of devastations, it came to be about how poetry assuages, names and  shares our pain.  It became Poetry in the Time of Pain

I planned on writing a Numbering My Life piece in which I simply listed numbers relative to my own personal life in some creative way--  number of sisters, brothers, homes, husbands, books and so forth, but as I was in Aruba, that post morphed into a numeric reflection on my time 
there instead. 

Not every idea is write -worthy and some are discarded before they are born.

And ...not every idea--once written-- is read-worthy either.

Some potential posts have been scrapped after they are written.  
I may have enjoyed the idea, thrilled doing the necessary research, but been greatly disappointed with the resulting writing.

 I may return to these later with new eyes.  I may never return-- but I believe we learn as we write, whether we publish it or not, whether it leaves the confines of our own computer or not.

I believe that there is something to learn in what did not work.

The above observations are from my personal standpoint.


I also look at my blog statistics. 
What do my readers think?

Which posts have they read the most?  
Which have been retweeted or reposted?  Or Google+1-ed?

The top five posts, since the blog began on January 16, 2013, according to page views are  listed below with the highest viewed listed first:


 1. Mentor Texts: Learning to Write from What We Read

 2. What Container Will Hold My Words?

`3. First Readers

 4. Digital Pros and Woes

 5. Women: Power Unspoken

I am still considering what links these posts besides high numbers.  What else do they have in common that catapulted them to the top of the list?

Meanwhile, I am writing on-- waiting on the next  lessons in the blog.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What do you learn as you write?
Make a list of lessons you have learned from writing a particular piece of writing.
Make a second list of lessions you have learned from your collected writings.

Perhaps a poem taught you to break lines in a new way.
Perhaps an essay taught you that you could repeat phrases for emphasis or ask questions that you would not answer in the piece.
Perhaps you learned that sometimes research is necessary,  even to write about a very familiar topic.

Write an essay about your own writing and what you have learned from it.





Monday, April 22, 2013

POETRY IN THE TIME OF PAIN

What do you read when you are in pain?

What do you write when your world ---or the world around you-- is falling apart?

When we are in fear collectively, when we are hurting nationally, when we are mourning together, compassionately and monumentally,  what do we read? What do we write?

Many people turn to poetry.

W.S. Merwin,  the seventeenth Poet Laureate, is quoted on Poetry in Times of Tragedy, a page  on the University of Arizona Poetry Center website as follows: 

People turn to poetry in times of crisis because it comes closer than any other art form to addressing what cannot be said. 
This is such a time.

In the past few months, we have seen children massacred,  bombs detonated, and buildings exploded.  We have watched massive manhunts, gunfights and shots flying in residential neighborhoods. 

We have battled nature and its extreme elements and witnessed the fortitude of humanity. 

And we have witnessed unimaginable pain, courageous heroism, and at the end of the day, a determined unity.  

What do we read in times like these?
What do we write?

At our memorials and public gatherings we read poems.

The president of the University of Arizona read Merwin's poem, To the New Yearat the January 12, 2011 memorial event  following the January 8 tragedy in Tucson
.
Nikki Giovanni offered words to comfort us after the Virginia Tech shootings in her April 17, 2007 Convocation Address.

To remember Newtown, poetry was written-- Click here and here to read poems featured by CBS Connecticut (Radio WTIC-1080).

Boston is no different--poetry abounds.  Blogger and Young Adult author, Julie Glover offers excerpts of related poems found online and  also  this observation in her blog post, Boston Bombing and National Poetry Month:

Poems capture all kinds of observations, ideas, and emotions, and in the wake of crisis, poetry can express our deepest wounds and hopes.

Joan Murray offers us a selection of poems to name our fear, poems to define our unpredicted courage, and poems to comfort us in two volumes she has edited, Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times and Poems to Live by in Troubled Times. 

     
                                                                                         








One of my favorite poems,The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Symborska,included in the first volume,  walks us through the aftermath of war (or bombings, explosions and massacres)  

She reminds us of those who ease our healing:


After every war
someone has to clean up.

Things won’t
straighten themselves up, after all...

She reminds us that somebody makes it possible for us to keep going, to move on, to continue living.

...Those who knew
what was going on here 
must make way for
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing...


And that courage that has amazed us in the past week---Anne Sexton has cornered the definition for which we have been searching. She has pinned down the thoughts we are  not quite able to  formulate, in her poem, Courage, also included in the same volume:



...Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there...

What do we offer our children as they deal with horrifying events that loop all day on the television, the images they encounter on the Internet, in the newspapers, and the conversations they inadvertently overhear.


Following the horror of September 11, several writers, including Georgia Heard, felt compelled to provide comfort and hope to our children.  

These writers collected poetry.
They offered poems.

Heard offers classic poems to name the doubts, hold the questions, and point us toward hope in her collection, This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort.

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Other writers and teachers, in their wisdom and compassion, provided a space  for both students and adults to explore their feelings, their longings-- the room to attempt to name that which can not be named.  

They offered time to write.

Shelley Harwayne collected writings and drawings and paintings created by children in New York City as they tried to record what they saw, heard, smelled, and felt in response to September 11.  Her amazing anthology, Message to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11.2001, provides us a glimpse of the resilience, the hope and the courage that our children possess.  




And it was not just well-known writers who helped us turn to poetry and writing, but also  teachers like you and me, in their classrooms across the country, who offered opportunities to write. 

First grade students of H. Byron Masterson Elementary in Kennett, Missouri expressed their confidence in the little things, the daily routines, that calmed them.  In their book, September 12th: We Knew Everything Would be All Right,  they share in writing, how they knew they heal. 



Likewise, after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project offered writing time and talking time to both students and teachers in their area.  Not only did this begin the healing process for the writers, but offered the public an anthology, Katrina: In Their Own Words, of written work, songs and, photography, but also a CD and radio broadcast, as well.






Lauren Thompson points us toward healing and hope in Hope is an Open Heart, in which she offers definitions of hope in action, paired with gorgeous photographs. Among her offerings are the following:


Hope is remembering that you are not alone.Many others feeljust the way you doMany otherscare...
Hope is a heartthat is open to the world around you.Hope is knowing that  things change--and that we can help things to change for the better.


What do you read when you are in pain?

How do you name your pain, write your healing, and create hope?

Many turn to poetry.


Read previous related post, Poetry: A Place to Stand. 



Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities


What  poem, novel, story or essay do you read when you are in pain?  Which piece of literature eases your doubts and comforts you in difficult times?

What is the book you reread when times are tough?

What do you write when you are struggling with fear or anger or disappointment in your own life or the world around you?

Write an essay about the piece of  literature and other written work that sustains, encourages,  comforts, and heals you.

Write a poem to name your  unnameable doubts and fears.

Friday, April 19, 2013

THREE KINDS OF PEOPLE


There are three kinds of people in the world.

There are lots of ways  to name or categorize these triads.


But there seem to always be three, no matter which naming system you choose.


When there is something new on our horizon-- new technology or ideas or information or strategies to be learned-- there are those who embrace the new, are willing to learn or at least consider the potential and possibilities being presented.  There are those who vehemently oppose the new, sometimes without even a fair viewing or open-minded hearing.  Then there are those who are unaware of the coming change or the change that has already arrived.They go about living and maintaining the status quo.






When you eating out, there are those who pick up the bill, those who offer to pick up the bill, but are happy to let you take care of it,  and those who don't plan to pick it up at all--they don't offer, waiting until somebody, anybody picks it up.  Or they may dig around in their pocket or purse for a ridiculous amount of time or go to the bathroom when the check comes.   Or they may just boldly wait.

When you driving, there are those who see your light and understand your desire to change lanes and allow you to do just that. There are those who see that light and speed up, blocking your attempt, and  then, there  are those who are oblivious to your light, to you, to other cars on the road.  They are on the phone, rocking out, daydreaming or otherwise engaged.  They don't know you exist.

When you stumble and/or actually fall, there are those who rush in to check on you, help you up and offer additional assistance. There are those who wonder from a remote distance if you are alright, and then, of course, there are those who didn't see you fall.

And when on the receiving end of help, there are those who are greatly appreciative, realizing and recognizing your efforts, not taking anything for granted.  There are those who accept, expect and demand help, and then, there are those who don't want your help, deny their need for assistance, and may even be rather rude about it.

When you are carrying something heavy, there are those who rush to take the load and remove your burden completely or who will share your burden, shouldering some of the weight. There are those who don't see (oblivious like the drivers above.) Then, of course, there is the third group--those who will see you struggling under with the load, yet do not help-- ignoring you and your need.

As we continue to watch the horror of the bombing  at the end of the Boston Marathon and its aftermath, this system of threes is present in this as well.

There are those who are helping, running into harm's way to assist in whatever way they can.  There are those who see the need  and want to help, but don't know what to do.  And then there are those who see the need, yet go about their lives undisturbed.

There are those who are skilled in triage, medicine,  first aid, and disaster management. There are those who are not trained in any of the above, but can learn quickly, take orders and  efficiently assist those  who do know. Then there are those who are paralyzed or overwhelmed by the sheer need of those around them.

There are those who crossed that finish line, those who were still running the race, and those who never started.


There are those who were unharmed that day, those who were wounded, and those who will never run again-- because they are dead.

There are three- always three.

Earlier this month, Aftab Alam in India posted his poem,There are Three Kinds of People to Poemhunter.com. He reflects on a childhood experience and recognized the triad present in that experience.



G.K. Chesterton writes an extended meditation on how we view and influence the world in  Three Kinds of Men (Chapter 23 of his book, Alarms and Discursions)




Here in Aruba, while walking near the pier downtown  we passed this message (  remembered and paraphrased)  in looped cursive neon lights on the front wall of a building:


Some (say they) want change. Those who actually want change act.


Do we want change?  Are we saying we want change? Are we wanting change... and acting to create and construct that change?

One way to begin to affect change is to consider which person you are in the ever-present system of three. Which person are you in the triads of the Boston Marathon tragedy?  

Which person are you most often and in general?

Which person are you?


Read previous related post, A Season of Guns.


Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Reflect on the system of three.  

Do you agree with this notion ---or do you see a different numeric system for categorizing people?

Write about how you categorize people in a variety of situations.

You may choose to express your reflections in a poem or you may choose to write a  longer ad and more philosophical personal essay.






Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NUMBERING OUR WORLD


Do you count things?

Sometimes as I am engaged in other activities, I will realize I am silently and, until that moment, unconsciously, counting.

From the moment we are given social security numbers as infants, numbers regulate almost every element of our lives.

Phone numbers and addresses, pin numbers and account numbers, codes to unlock lockers, phones and iPads.

The number of times we have changed jobs. The number of times we have read our favorite books.   The number of dogs we have owned. The number of pets we have owned, which differs from the number of dogs we have owned and on and on.

And we all remember the commercials that Visa used to run assigning prices (or numbers) to various items and experiences, always ending with one most precious thing that was "priceless."

We can count and keep track of anything, everything


Here in Aruba, it is no different.  I am counting automatically and numbering my world--reflecting on my experience.

3  
The number of pools at my hotel-one of which I will be jumping into today, when I return from  Church. The pools are on several levels . 




5 
The number of churches listed in the Hyatt Aruba Guest Services Book. I am Episcopalian and there is no Episcopalian church listed.  We chose St. Anna Catholic Church.




5
The number of people traveling with me. My husband and dear friends.





5
Also the maximum number of people permitted in a taxi by law in Aruba .  We needed to take two taxis to church.

1
The number of beaches adjacent to my hotel--This is where I spent  the better part of yesterday.  Hmmmm---delicious ocean air, salt water, and cooling wind.




9  
The number of places to eat and/or drink  at the Hyatt..  7 serve food and 2 are strictly bars.

This is our favorite breakfast spot. The lagoon threads throughout the property. Here several beautiful black swans swim.  In the morning the birds hover on umbrellas waiting for morsels of food. They swoop right down to the tables and steal sugar packets.



51
The number of restaurants and bars across the street from my hotel (or so it seems).

321
The number of stalls, shops, and stores from which to buy souvenirs, trinkets, necessities and unnecessary items  (or so it seems).

1
The number of new favorite drinks I have adopted--the Brazilian Caipirinha.  This is the next logical drink for a Mojito lover--it's a Mojito all grown up.


420
The number of palm trees outside my balcony and down to the beach (or so it seems).

18-24
The average speed of the wind each day in miles per hour.  Needless to say having a hairdo is completely out of the question.  I have given up on that count.

2
The number of times I have been to Aruba.

2
The number of wedding parties I have seen from my balcony, so far.

6523
The number of places I have not seen in the world.  The number of places waiting for me to arrive.



Numbers can be a way to categorize and compartmentalize our lives.
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Or we can use the numbers creatively to reflect on our lives, events and situations and symbolically represent ideas, make our point, or argue passionately.

My friend, Julie Johnson, reflects on her own life using numbers in her blog  post, Numbering My Days.

Arriving in my inbox on Monday, April 15, 2013, the  Poets.Org  Poem of the Day selection was Living in Numbers by Claire Lee, in which she numbers  personal experiences and reflects on her life.  

1
The number of poems given to me out of thin air, arriving just in time to include in this post.  Synchronicity. Serendipity.

And finally, I offer A Contribution to Statistics by Wislawa Szymborska, one of my favorite poets. Using numbers--or statistics-- she numbers our relationships and humanity, causing us to reflect on how we live out our mortality.


Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Think about numbers in your life.  Can you categorize and count significant elements in your life? 

What situations or events beg to be itemized and counted and listed.

Can you use the numbers in your life and your experience to make a bigger point?

Try writing both a lighter piece using numbers and also a piece that uses numbers to make a significant statement about your life or the world.


Monday, April 15, 2013

OVERHEARD


15-year-old me bought this.
 (Unknown speaker behind me during the crowded Christmas shopping season at Polaris mall several years ago )

Well, you will be glad to know that your biggest enemy now has cancer
(Man to woman in Kroger's parking lot on Easter Sunday)

I'll call you.  (Visitor leaving a resident's room, already in the hallway and  headed back into the world outside the nursing home)


Help!  (Repeatedly coming from a room across the hall in the nursing home)

I am done talking about this. I don't want to be your friend.  I don't want you to be my friend...  I don't care what you call me.  (Phone conversation outside H and R Block as I was walking in to have my taxes done.)

Do you want a piggy-back ride? (Coming from a room  across from my dad's in the nursing home.)

This one really puzzles me--- I had seen a dog go down the hall earlier.  No children. The only folks in the room seemed to be the visitor and resident, an extremely large woman attached to an oxygen tank and tube. 

So who was offering a piggy-back ride?  To whom?

Oh, they let a little kid in here--that's a little kid. (Nursing home resident referring to me, after I said Hi as I was passing by her room. 

I was the only one in the entire hall so she had to be talking about me. I chuckled to myself at this one.

You are still not a problem.  Are you campaigning?  ( I guess you had to hear to beginning of this one. I didn't. This was repeated each time a new glitch arose in the even-exchange plus-add- a-new-purchase procedure that was under way as I joined the checkout line in my favorite clothing store.) 

Meantime, I waited while this continued and more and more people helped the "not problem."

We have eyes and do not see. We have ears and do not hear. (Spoken by the one sky cap to another at the airport as a lady asking the whereabouts of the door to enter, had walked right by it on her way over to them)

Do you need to get by me?  (A lady in the aisle of the airplane getting into the overhead bin as a long line of folks were returning from the bathroom.)

Ma'am, you will have to sit down(Flight attendant with hand on the shoulders of a lady who had roamed the aisles for about 30 minutes"looking for her luggage" as we were about to land.)

I told you I would get the car. (Woman to a man bent over on the sidewalk. Was he sick? Once he straightened up there was lots of yelling--words indistinguishable --and they continued down the street. They stopped once more, while he sat on a large rock.  Once they continued down the street I lost sight of them.)



I keep lists of  memorable, odd, funny,  disconnected fragments that I overhear.  

I usually plan to use them in poems, in writing prompts or other pieces of writing. 
Sometimes I actually do. 
Or other times I compose poems of just the overheard lines.
Still other times I just record them because they beg to be recorded.

These fragments  tell a story.  It is up to us to recognize, discover,  or create the story.

Overheard at Kenyon from The Kenyon Thrill gives us a fun peak at conversations taking place on one of my favorite campuses.  Click here for a listing of all the Overheard at Kenyon Columns to date.

A quick search on the Google will also reveal several other Overheard sites--Overheard in New York, the Beach, the Office and so on.  

Caveat: Language for these sites is recorded exactly as heard, and may sometimes be a bit raw, racy, or explicit---not always appropriate for young people.



Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Listen today.  

Listen to what people around you are saying to each other or speaking into their phones or muttering to themselves.

What do the snatches of conversation  that you  overhear mean?
What stories can you infer?
What stories are behind the words spoken in your hearing?

You may want to arrange your overheard  lines into poem.

You may want to write the back story of one or two of the lines.

What did you learn about people as you listened today?