Chicken Soul Soup: Life Sucked

In which a student is forced, by the most draconian means (“Read this for next week.”), to read Anne Carson’s Antigonick.

Student: IN A NUTSHELL: PEOPLE WERE REALLY DEPRESSED BACK IN THE DAY.

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Word on the Street with Humans

Well, yes, there will be many humans at Word on the Street; the best Humans, however, will be the copies of To Be Human Again.

Sunday, September 24th
11:00-6:00
Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON

Me an’ my Humans will be at the Fringe Beat. Look for Salmacis’ Press.

Notes towards the Definition of A Good Student

It’s the beginning of this school year, and we again come to that eternal conundrum of civilisation: Who is a good student?

Well…

  • a good student views the beginning and ending of the school year as a mere change in schedule
  • a good student has a schedule, but also knows when the schedule can/should be tossed out the window
  • a good student is organised, even if the method of organisation is comprehensible only to them
  • a good student knows how they learn best
  • a good student does concern themselves with grades received, but only to keep track of their personal progress; sometimes an A+ is the only acceptable grade, and at other times a C- is the goal
  • a good student understands that teachers can open the door but cannot make the student walk through it
  • a good student knows what makes their heart thud with happiness
  • a good student can come to terms with what boredom they must suffer in order to achieve the happiness that makes their heart thud
  • a good student will say “I already know that” because their inherent compulsion to learn will have them bursting to follow that sentence with “Teach me more”
  • a good student knows that age has no bearing on who is the teacher and who is the student
  • a good student has no limits, no prejudice, no fear

 

Chicken Soul Soup: Modern Poets

Me: Your homework was to find a poem you like–seeing as you’re being rather persnickety about poems.

Student: I found one. It’s Ben Jonson’s A Fit of Rhyme against Rhyme.

Me: Good choice. So, tell me about Ben Jonson.

Student: He’s a modern poet. I can tell ’cause he’s good. Not like that J. Alfred Prufrock guy.

Word on the Street

September 24, 2017 at Harbourfront, 11:00 to 6:00.

To Be Human Again will be available from Salmacis’ Press on the Fringe Beat.

 

To Be Human Again at Word on the Street 2017

On Sunday, September 24, I’ll be at Word on the Street. I’ll have To Be Human Again with me. (It’s a good thing to have.)

About Libraries

Activity Being Avoided: None. It’s a writing day. I’m allowed to be doing this.
Music In My Head: Kaa Khem — Yat-Kha
Tea Being Drunk: None. It’s water. I celebrated the civic holiday with chocolate cake, and I now have the same stomach ache I recall from childhood.
Books Being Read: Rebecca–Daphne du Maurier, My Happy Days in Hell–George Faludy

The Globe and Mail published this on Friday: Amid growing demand, GTA libraries are helping to fill a social-services gap

That’s my library they’re talking about at the beginning of the article.

Much as I appreciate this article, I’d like to correct the author: libraries have always filled a social-services gap.

 The small town I grew up in didn’t have a lot for kids like me: there were church groups and Brownies, and sport things. As a child, I had some friends but was more interested in books. (The inside covers of my childhood books all have death threats for the sister who had the audacity to thieve from my shelves.) I was eleven years old when I started volunteering at the local library. Very likely, I wasn’t what the average librarian might call helpful, but I was very happy to be there, touching all the books, getting quite side-tracked by reading the books I was supposed to be sorting, and maybe being a little bit useful or something. I felt mature.

I felt like I was being educated in a way that school could never offer.

The building was dusty, high-ceilinged, hushed except for the creaking of old wooden chairs and titanic reading tables. I can’t find any pictures of the interior, but here’s the exterior of heaven:

Image from Canada’s Historic Places

In 1980, someone made a prediction about the town: because of all the sinners and implicit sinning in the area, God was going to lose His patience and deal with the whole sinful mess. Sadly, God (or someone with a flourishing complex) chose fire to express His displeasure. Along with a good handful of other places, the library went down in 1980.

My heart broke. I think there might still be a small fissure beneath the thick scar.

Not to be thwarted, I volunteered at the school library. It was limited in both size and scope, filled with a lot of books that were, frankly, boring. The library contained books that were “appropriate” for W.A.S.P. children up to Grade 8.

I needed better than that. I needed adult books. I needed my big library.

We moved to a larger town just before my 13th birthday. The library there was much the same: old, creaky, educational and safe.

I had even fewer friends as a teenager. Didn’t need them. I had Timothy Findley and Jane Rule.

Can’t think what I’d be, or where I’d be, without public libraries. Certainly, I would be a demand on social services. Where else, pre-internet, would I have learned to be who I am? Where else would someone like me find sufficient sources of words for their sanity?

It’s always good to see public acknowledgement of our need for libraries.

If you need further proof that a good chunk of society’s money needs to go to libraries, you can also check out WMTC’s Things I Heard at the Library. (She’s a librarian, not just someone who would be a drain on society if she weren’t given enough to read.)