I Never Thanked Them

img_1003    Today I met a woman about my age.  She told me how many times her children thanked her for moving to America to give them opportunities they would not have had in their small town, which she characterized as small, unsafe, lots of guns, lots of drug dealers.  She raised five children here in America, all in college or college graduates.  And now it is her turn, she said, to go to school.

I was so bitter and angry growing up I never thanked my parents for anything, not even the now obvious sacrifices they made so we children could go to good schools.  I was too busy feeling like a victim to appreciate they sacrificed a lot–I didn’t see it at all.

As I walked in the woods this afternoon, I was full of regret.

Is it possible to thank the dead?

All I could think to do was embrace the beauty around me, the trees, wildflowers, gorgeous sky and say thank you, Mom and Dad, I wish I had thanked you while you were alive.

I hope my life itself and my embracing of literacy have shown my appreciation, but I doubt it.  I took it as my due while I tried to distance myself from my family, my neighborhood, and especially my father.

Thank you, Mom and Dad.  I wish I had told you that while you were alive.  While you were far from perfect and even destructive at times, I acknowledge you made big sacrifices so we could have a better life.

How I wish I had told them that while they were alive– thank you for the sacrifices you made so we could have a better life.  No, that’s not good enough.

Thank you for helping me have a good life.

Cry, Beloved America

img_1024     Many educators become pensive at the end of the summer; as we get ready to return to the classroom, we cannot help but think about how we won’t have much time to actually *think* for months at a time as we enter a whirlwind of teaching activity.  Think now! Think!

This summer I have been thinking about a novel I read long ago, Cry the Beloved Country, a novel published in 1948 and written by Alan Paton. (See more here: Cry the Beloved Country.)

While this novel is a renowned novel about South Africa, the urgency, sadness, and beauty of the country strikes me to this day and the title–Cry, the Beloved Country.  This is how I felt after seeing Spike Lee’s latest movie, The Blackkklansman.  Cry, beloved America. Is there hope for us? Is there? Can we reach across the years and miles and truly love and respect all Americans?

The news from Washington? Cry, cry, beloved America.

And then I think of returning to the classroom next week and I could weep again for other reasons.

I so strongly believe in the power of literacy to improve lives, and I am so very proud to always have been a teacher of literacy in a nation that educates all students. All students.  I am no longer teaching high school, but when I see my class rosters and check into the background of my students I feel very proud, happy, a bit scared, but mostly so very excited to be a reading instructor at the community college level.

My students, as they usually are, will be those for whom English is not a first language, or those whom struggle with reading and writing.

That’s why I am there, to help them. To create lessons that will invite them to the literacy table, a great strong table.

I so desperately believe in the great promise of educating all students and I so strongly feel pride in our community college system.

So come to class students; I am waiting eagerly to meet you and start our literacy journey together.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Teachers: Back to School– Do you know where your students are?

empty desks back to school    I love teaching.  Educators, are you too getting ready for back to school, whether it is back to teaching pre-K or at the university?

I love to see these desks fill up. It’s a great yearly rhythm, a great chance to start over each term, each class.  Who else gets that?

Now, I wish my students would register! We will have a great class together, I promise you. There’s magic in the classroom–let’s find it together.

Thanks for reading.

Publications, Updated

 

typewriter-vintage-old-vintage-typewriter-163116     Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included in books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, New Zealand, and the United States.

*Coffin Bell Journal,2018
“Herstory,” a poem, to be published October 1, 2018

*Spillwords Press, 2018
Stopped by Laura Lee at Spillwords Press

*Tuck Magazine, June 2018
Tuck Magazine

*Tuck Magazine,  May 2018
Tuck

* Southernmost Point Guest House (UK)
Poetry

* Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21)
JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President

* Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20)
JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy

* Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17)
JOMP Volume 17

* Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher
Raewyn Alexander NZ

* Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/
“Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

*Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ Archives

* Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.

* Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL

On Being a Poet, and a thanks to Chen Chen

poetry  Something the poet Chen Chen wrote on his Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/chenchenwrites) really struck me.

being a functioning person while being a poet: i am simultaneously trying to be less overwhelmed by the world & more.

(Quote used with his permission.)

As a highly sensitive person, a true HSP, I completely relate to his idea that we are sensitive, it helps us be poets, but we can be overwhelmed by the world! How do we function while being a poet?  It’s our sense of wonder, our amazing joy in small delights that are NOT small to us that can help us so much as poets.  I know for me, nothing is small.  I feel all deeply and personally.

How I survive is partly having a career in teaching, where I must be grounded, deal with students’ issues and concerns, grade those papers promptly, listen deeply, plan great lessons, and more.  Teaching has truly grown my heart and mind.

But as an HSP, I have been so deeply disturbed by some of my students’ stories of trauma and loss.  Can that go into my poetry too while not being exploitative or disrespectful? May I write in their voices, for I do listen so closely to my students.

This is another issue I need to and want to learn more about: how to respect the voice of others, share it, and not be appropriating their voices?

I’m learning, for I do have some small gift writing persona poems and dramatic monologues.

Right now this HSP is checking her class rosters several times a day, hoping her classes run!  I’m also thinking about the lessons learned from being in the Rocky Mountains for nearly a week (oh! I am so weak is one big lesson!), and thinking about how much I missed my trees here, back in the flat land.

And I am SHOCKED that I handled the heights of the plane ride and the tram ride up to 9000 feet. In fact, I am more afraid to go downtown by myself than I was of the plane ride or the tram! And I am afraid of heights.

But that’s another story, a story of being OVERWHELMED by all the sights and sounds of a big city, the sights and sounds of a great cultural city that can also truly overwhelm an HSP like myself.  I notice how tall the buildings are, how many people are on the streets, etc. etc. and feel overwhelmed sometimes. Sometimes just so alive by the hum and activities–so much to see, to do, to hear, to experience. The great museums, the great music, all that LIFE!

Best to you all, and thanks for reading.

Favorite Quotes? Feel free to add on and share

quotes      “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” ~ Lau Tzu

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”  –Frederick Douglass

 

Feel free to add on and share!

Thanks.

Laura Lee

August, Poetry Challenge Month?

6 wordle         For decades, August has been my strongest “urge to poetry” month. Something about the light, the sounds, the smells–all is so REVVED UP. Poets, agree?

I used to be in vibrant online writing communities, and every August we would have a poetry challenge.  We would write a poem a day, no editing allowed, just to “rev” up our creativity.

It was glorious.

We (I!) wrote a lot of bad poetry, but I am still finding some snippets of good poetry on old flash drives and in old posts.

Hmm…perhaps it is time to reinstate an AUGUST POETRY CHALLENGE?

It couldn’t be here, on a public blog, I fear, for that would preclude subsequent publication.  Perhaps back on good old Facebook, with a private account only friends can access.

There’s an idea!

Readers, writers, what do you think?

Thanks for reading.

35 submissions this summer—and the rejections roll in…

blog word cloud       Since late spring, I’ve made 35 plus submissions just using Submittable.com.  I love using this vehicle since it helps me keep track of my submissions in one convenient location.  I’ve also made email and US mail submissions.

My goal in submitting work is yes, to be published, but also to encourage me to improve my writing and to feel a part  of a writing community.  I am not a great writer, but I can be a good one if I work at it!

It’s obvious there are more poets than poetical publishing opportunities.  I am receiving a number of rejections after an early spring run of four acceptances, and so yes, I am feeling the sting a bit, even while the editors are quite kind in their notes.  Just doesn’t fit, not right now, etc.  No one has said I should seek solace on another planet.  Yet.

Poets, you know this is mostly unpaid publication anyway, and it’s the joy of being published that urges us onward.

While I’ve submitted mostly poetry, I’ve always worked on some mini-dialogue experiments and one short story.

In the meantime, I am enjoying revising my writing, and submitting more.

I am glad I am not trying to support myself with my writing, but I am also glad I write.  It’s been a part of who I am since I was an angsty pre-teen, writing my wretched “woe is me” type broken-hearted poetry.

Now it’s time to get back to work; I have a lot of writing to do.

Thanks for reading!

Alt Minds Literary Magazine-Submissions Until 7-14

bright cardiac cardiology care              Alt Minds Literary Magazine is looking for “…fiction and non-fiction/memoir (1,000 to 3,000) of any genre and poetry (no more than 40 lines) that is related to mental health, in theme, subject matter, characterization, whatever “mental health” means to you.”  Unlike many new journals, this is a paying journal with a very narrow audience: writing with themes related to mental health.

Furtheremore, the editor and founder is brave to state she wished to create “…a literary magazine that focuses exclusively on content about mental health and all the idiosyncrasies that come along in living with mental illness.”  That’s brave.

I’ve submitted two poems there; one is about a competency hearing and one is about drives–literal and metaphorical.

I’m still very pleased and surprised to find so many literary journals–seems to be something for everyone.

Thanks for reading!

bright cardiac cardiology care

 

 

Poetry is making a comeback? NPR discusses the NEA study

 

gray scale photography of typewriter        As I wrote earlier and as this article declares, “In half a decade, the number of U.S. adults who are reading poetry has nearly doubled.” Read all about it on the NPR (National Public Radio) site, where they quote from the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) study here: Poetry is making a comeback

If a comeback, not even 12% of Americans reading poetry is a paltry figure to me.  How can poetry not be a part of so many lives? And do we even have 12% of Americans buying/ supporting poets and poetry?

I’m not sure about that.  I’d love to see America support its poets and truly embrace poetry, but we have a long way to go.