Link to article about text v. screen reading

                           open-book-library-education-read-159621  As a reading specialist, teacher, and avid reader myself, I am interested     in reading research.   This study shows that students often learn better when they read print v. screen reading materials : Study: text v. screen

For everyday leisure reading, I am fine with a kindle or screen reading. In fact, it’s more convenient so I read MORE. But when I need DEPTH? Then I need paper. Might be true for many others, according to this study.

I am not, in any way, denigrating the power of e-texts to engage us to read. I read so much more now that I can quickly and easily access texts on my Kindle. I am, and my colleagues have been concerned, about the pushing of e-texts in formal education, textbooks on iPads, etc.

What about you?  Do you prefer to read using paper texts or e-texts?

On sharing poetry and losing ownership of your poems

SMALL HEART BOOKS POETRY        I write mostly poetry, although this blog has gotten me to write more nonfiction.  That’s a good thing.  I do share many poems in their rough draft stages on my Facebook page, but I have a closed site and limit the views even there.  However, I don’t post my poetry here on my website/ blog just yet.

Why? I’ve submitted poetry many places, and editors/ publishers don’t want work that has been “published” elsewhere usually.  Mind you, only a few people are “reading” the poems there at all, but some will even claim a closed locked down Facebook site means
you’ve published your poem.

We poets are not writing Pulitzer Prize winning novels and posting them on Facebook!  It seems a bit silly and excessive to me to not be able to share and get my close friends’ critiques; however, with the poetry publication market as competitive as it is, I don’t want to ruin any chances I might have of publishing.

I admit to liking an audience for my writing.  Is that shallow? Probably.

Two good sites that are open to accepting poetry already posted on social media and personal blog posts and two I greatly respect are Rattle Magazine and Tuck Magazine.  (Links here: Rattle Magazine and Tuck Magazine.)

In fact, Tuck Magazine just published a poem I’d placed here; they simply asked me to take it down for three weeks and to link to them.  Sounds fair! Their goal is to INCREASE readership of writing about social issues.  I posted this poem here on the first day I created this blog, and now it is published here: Refuge Laura Lee Poem in Tuck Magazine.

Rattle Magazine is a top notch magazine of modern poetry, and its poems knock me out.  I can only dream of being published there.(I need to read and write more! Much more. I come away renewed with the power of poetry when I read their published poetry!)

Yet they don’t consider social media published for the sake of accepting work for competitions and possible publication.

Having said all that, I admit I am not a great poet.  I can write good poetry of a particular style, narrative poetry and dramatic monologues, the latter of which is out of style.  I have sometimes written good lyrical poetry.  I am not an academic but a caring reader and writer, so to me it’s okay I’m not making a living as a poet.

As if. DECADES ago I did research and found that only 9 people in American admit to making their living as a poet. NINE out of what–1/3 of a billion Americans?

So I continue to read and write. I should spend more time reading and writing, and now that I am a part-time worker, I will.

I’m fighting the impulse to return to full time work; I don’t want that heavy workload anymore.  Been there.  Done that! For DECADES.

So here’s to the talented poets and fiction writers and nonfiction writers–I admire you! I’m looking for more great writers to read, new or old writers, poet or fiction, for good literature really inspires me.

And I’ve only got so many poems in me–I don’t want to lose the right to publish them unless they are actually PUBLISHED elsewhere. I send out the ones I can stand to lose!  Since poetry doesn’t pay, I have many poems I just don’t want to lose.  I know. As if!

Keep reading and writing!

If you have any writers you would recommend or novels, I’d love to hear about them!

Laura Lee

Writing to and in the voices of fictional characters

writing to characters

       I’ve written to fictional characters for many years; sometimes, I get replies.  When very young, I used to write to Anne Frank to offer comfort, to seek comfort, to wish she had lived.  Imagine what she could have written, what she could have become as an adult. I wrote to her when I was very young, before I really understood her history.  I wrote to her as if she were a character in a book, and I just loved her.

I have written in characters’ voices to other characters, in the form of ekphrastic poems.

I have written poetry in the voices of Levin from Anna Karenina, of Macduff from Macbeth, of Simon from Lord of the Flies.  I have written in the voice of Lucy Gayheart in Willa Cather’s fine novel of the same name.  To characters in the novels of Thomas Wolfe–o, lost!  To characters in the amazing novels of John Steinbeck.  To characters in those many young adult novels I read when a teen–I wanted to tell them I understood.

Do many others do this?  It seems such an incredible thing to me when a writer creates characters that truly speak to me; they help me grow as a person.  They help me empathize, see things from other points of views.

From one mind to another, across the years and the miles? That’s such an amazing gift of literacy.  Literacy means we don’t have to be confined to one place and time, and that is a priceless gift.

Writers: writing, politics, art… Tuck Magazine mini review

journal      As promised, I will continue to post links to sites I find are good for teachers, writers, poets, and more.

Tuck Magazine
–an online political, human rights and arts magazine, because social justice and the arts are important.

From their site:

“Tuck Magazine is a political, human rights, lit, music and arts journal with a difference: we aim to entertain a wide variety of readers globally.”

Now don’t you want to go there and read?  I feel it’s important to have creativity walk with compassion, which is the “slogan” of this site, after all.  I like what they are publishing.

If you have some sites you consider worth reading and investigating, let me know!

Laura Lee

Creativity and compassion should walk together.

teach                     Creativity and compassion should walk together–what does that even mean? Thank you, students.

I had no business entering teaching later on in life, and certainly had no business teaching where I did for my first full-time teaching job. I’d come out of business, gone to graduate school, and entered teaching in my middle years.

Prepared, but totally UNPREPARED for the great needs of the kids. My kids. Yes, I found teachers tend to refer to our students as OUR KIDS, MY KIDS. We love them.

My kids taught me so much, and among the many lessons learned is that it is better to be compassionate than talented.  Does the world need another poet? Maybe, although I love poetry and would argue how important poetry is to the ever changing world. But does the world need better teachers? Oh, yes. (Poets don’t hate me. I love poetry! We need great poets of social justice and to keep poetry alive!)

I found my talents were challenged daily, hourly, even every minute I taught.  I grew so much as a person in patience, humor, and love.  Yes, love. Can we even use that word?

I found my talent for researching resources and creating lessons to engage even the most reluctant learners were challenged every day.

Some time I will write about what I lost by teaching where I did for so long, but for now I want to acknowledge something that has changed my life for the better:

Kiddos, my Kids, all the students even my college students–you’ve helped me become a better person. I had no idea the heart could grow so much. (Can we say heart?)  I had no idea how much my talents that lay dormant when I worked in business would be needed as a teacher.

I know I am a much better teacher than I am a writer, and I am okay with that.  What I’ve gained through teaching is immeasurable, even shocking.  I had not expected that!  I promise I will continue to improve as a teacher, even in retirement years.

Thank you, students past and present–I so hope you are doing well.  Thank you.

And *this* photo was a writing prompt!

IMG_6070                     I kept this photo for nearly 18 years.  We produced some interesting (erm!) writing from this photo prompt.  I know a few friends and I are clownaphobic, and this really spoke to us. Wish I could find the writing.  I am sure it was BIZARRE.

Try, just try not to think of this photo as the day goes on…the red hands, the red throat… Sinister and humorous at the same time.

Train to No One

        trains black and white

From a year ago… places and memories…

I hold back, reluctant to get on the train. The train—a practical method of transportation. Leave the driving to us. Quick, mostly reliable. I can read during a train ride. I can daydream, as long as don’t fall asleep. Easy way to get to the new doctor’s office.

But the hold of place, the memory in the body of place.

This is where I used to get off the train and meet Earl, walk and walk and talk and talk away the day. We’d discuss teaching, life, family, everything and nothing. We’d talk about Ruth, his dearest friend for decades—how they loved one another but could not live together. We would go book shopping and I’d meet yet another member of his huge extended family. To meet Earl was to meet many wonderful people.

This is where I used to get off the train and meet Ruth, walk and walk and talk and talk away the day. We’d discuss teaching, life, family, everything and nothing. I helped edit her book, helped teach her about computers. We’d talk about Earl, her dearest friend for decades—how they loved one another but could not live together.

They are both gone now.

And I feel it in my body, this grief. And I get off the train to what—to no one.

I walk towards the doctor’s office, hoping he is busy and running late. I pass no bookstores on the way.

Train to no one.

First Lines/ Where do they come from? Where do they go?

First lines–I think of first lines a lot as the day goes on.  Sometimes I imagine an opening scene from fiction.  Often times it’s a first line of a poem.  Something will grab me, a sight, a sound, a smell, a memory.  And then the storytelling starts in my mind.

I grew up with parents who were quite the storytellers.  I didn’t know until I was a teenager than many kids could ask a simple question and get a simple answer; I always got a story, and usually a long, convoluted, probably only partly true story.

All three of my siblings are storytellers.  My students say I tell a LOT of stories.

I love stories.

But it all starts with a few words, a phrase, a line or two.

And these are going through my head, a sort of off fairy tale tale of some sort or a poem?

And the child asked, “It cannot get any worse, can it?” And the big one answered, “Oh, yes, yes it can. It can get colder.”

Who knows where the lines will go.  Often they go nowhere, but they do become  a part of me.  These lines have been popping up for days now, so I think that child and that big one have a story to tell.


On handwriting and the paper load… good-bye to journals & paperback books?

handwriting journal    When one has been writing as an almost sacred act since early childhood as I have, it’s hard to feel any of that skill slipping away.  I was a journal writer, often writing up to 30 (wretched!) pages a day.  From those early journals came some good poetry, some good fiction, and one important way of dealing with the world.  My creativity, my secret world, writing. I was a bit arrogant about my journals and more journals and more journals.  I fell in love with reading as well and became a double snob–give me books and a pen and I’ll reject much else.

But I only imagined making a living as a writer for a few moments; I am too sociable and loving of creature comforts to embrace the garret.  I worked in business for many years, and spent much of my time typing.  I then entered teaching, where I spent decades loving what I did, while damaging my hands, shoulders, spine, etc. Ask a long time teacher and you will hear about the toll lugging around multiple heavy book bags takes on the body!

Did I mention I became a reading, English, and ESL teacher?  Ask a literacy teacher about the paper load!

My hands, wrists, shoulders, all became damaged by overuse.  I could continue to type well, but for some reason, writing by hand became painful and difficult, even after surgery, physical therapy, and more.

Luckily, over the decades, the path from my mind to my hands as they type has become a quick one.  One of my jobs in business was to type up conversations as they occurred, so I learned to be “one with the keyboard.”

But handwriting?  My old friend?  No, that’s a loss to me.

But also a gift to realize not to judge others who need to approach literacy differently than I do.  It’s all right to type journals.  It’s all right to use the phone to write notes.  It’s all right to dictate journal entries.

A decade ago, we moved.  The thought of moving TONS of paper with us was causing my aching back and hands to, well–ache!  No, I let go of so much paper.

I now read mainly online–horrors!  I can carry hundreds of books with me on my phone.  While I do miss all those paper texts, it’s more important that I continue to read.  I now write mainly by typing.

I miss my old skills of being able to carry around the weight of the world in paper books and carrying my paper journals everywhere.But I admit I certainly appreciate the ability to remain a person of literacy by using technology.

Lessons learned? Don’t be a literacy snob, embrace reading, writing, and language in its many forms.

Just don’t ask me to walk through an office supply store without coveting beautiful journals, pens, and papers.





Nature Walks

I cannot imagine living away from trees, the woods, nature.  A few years ago, our area’s ash trees suffered from Emerald Ash Bore, and most of the ash trees had to be removed.  I hadn’t realized how much each tree added to the absolute joy of my natural world–until they had to be removed.  I dearly enjoy the privilege of being able to walk in nature in all seasons, and don’t take any trees for granted!