Monday, February 11, 2013

A Grammar Gripe from Half a World Away by Courtney Young

"I'm bored." Elizabeth complained. "Yeah Miss. We need something to do,"  Lisa chimed in. Without looking up from my paperwork I said, "Well, you can file some of these papers, organize my desk, clean the office, clean your room, do your homework, or read a book. You have plenty of options." Elizabeth rolled her eyes and retorted, "read book is olden days." I stopped writing and looked up at her. My blank stare didn't strike her, nor did it urge her to repeat what she said. Questioningly, I asked her to repeat her statement. Without any editing or correcting she boldly repeated, "read book is olden days." My ears did not deceive me, and from the look on her face I knew she was serious. It was not a joke, she thought that her statement was valid and correct in every sense.

I let out a sigh of grief as I reached for a miniature white board and a dry erase marker. I wrote her sentence on the board and proceeded to ask her and Lisa what was wrong with the sentence. Lisa was giddy in answering, "it should be reading books miss!"

Here in New Zealand I have survived several experiences where students misuse grammar. Some mistake the word "use" for the slang term "yous", and others don't understand the comma concept. There are children who will pick up a can of spray paint and deface public property, yet they don't know how to read, and they tag misspelled words in visible places. Although the Ministry of Education has made a proper education easily accessible to every child, many children are not adequately learning. It's not that the government has failed the students, or that the teachers are not teaching, but students have been cultured to believe that education is not important. This fact is reflected in the amount of students that are found to not complete high school; it's no secret that New Zealand has "one of the highest school dropout rates, with the sixth-lowest high-school completion rate in the developed world".1 Can you imagine 74% of the population being high school dropouts? Those that stay in high school can at times decide not to sit exams, and they barely achieve the standards they need in order to pass.

This means that my students are at risk of dropping out and never learning the precious concepts of grammar. They'll scowl at me now for correcting their sentences, but I know that one day they'll find themselves correcting someone elses grammatically incorrect statements. For this cause I will keep calm and correct on. 

*Names of the students have been changed to protect their identities and embarrassment. 
1. Collins, Simon. "New Zealand Youth Losing out in Health, Education, Jobs." New Zealand Herald, 31 Mar. 2010. Web. 27 Jan. 2013.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Quest to Mythcon 43


Four Tolkienites from La Sierra University in Riverside are desperate to travel to UC Berkeley for MythCon 43 August 3-6, 2012. The Fellowship is in need of financial assistance with lodging, food, transportation and registration.This conference is Valinor for Tolkien scholars, the Undying Land for LOTR nerds. Professor G. Ronald Murphy and author Malinda Lo will be keynote speakers, eagerly imparting their knowledge about the Inklings and everything Tolkien, Lewis, Williams, Sayers and Barfield. Each person in the Fellowship has been accepted to present research papers at the conference, but we are in danger of missing this opportunity due to lack of funding.

To those of you willing to donate your hard earned cash, we provide the following incentives:

$5-$20-   A Facebook shout out 
$50-       A video thank you posted on our FB page
$100-     An original haiku composed by the Fellowship 
$200-     A video thank you posted on our FB page given by a member of the Fellowship dressed up as an Elf and spoken in Elvish
$1000- All of the above, plus our undying gratitude and devotion, possibly homemade cookies

Please visit our Facebook page for updates and information: 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Based on Ramanujan's “Self Portrait” by Ruthie Heavrin

I imitate everyone, but Jesus, and I catch myself in stained glass despite the laws they're meant to depict which bring order to the image of the Messiah – a stranger, still unknown, often overshadowed by the letter.

Friday, March 9, 2012

12:30 by Edgar Hernandez

James rolls up the left over sandwich wrapper, throwing it with the others on his 89 Ford pickup truck’s bed, and reclines on the driver seat. The seat complains as he falls back but complies, letting James lay nearly flat. Extending his arm into the glove compartment, James takes out a pair of aviator sunglasses, a pair of shades with a dark-yellow tint and golden frames, and hits the power button on his radio before putting on the glasses.

The car’s stereo blinks 12:30, and “Nothing Else Matters,” by Metallica, begins playing on cue. Every day, the radio DJ plays the same songs at this hour. James is not sure why he always listens to the same old rock songs. Something about falling into a routine gives him comfort. Yes, it is ironic to listen to that particular Metallica song every day, but nothing really matters.

The summers in California are treacherous. The day before, the weather might be merciful and blow a gentle breeze. Those are the best days. James opens the window, reclines on his seat, puts on his shades to cover his eyes from the blinding sun, and enjoys the radio with the cool breeze flowing across his face. Today, however, the day has been antagonizing. The heat pierces through James’s skin, militaristically forcing tiny droplets of water to plop out. The shades are not a commodity today; they are a necessity.

The light reflects off the pavement, distorting James’s perception and making it look like a river divides the parking lot up ahead. James shuts his eyes, his glasses sliding closer to his eyes. These are the only thirty minutes of the day that belong to him.

Maybe that is the reason he loves to listen to the same radio station and the same songs. They are his songs; they are his precious 30 minutes, and the only time in the world when no one can bother him.

In thirty minutes, he will take his tie and tighten it around his neck, throw on his coat, and walk into the artificial environment inside the office. There, workers will stand next to the water cooler for thirty minutes, pretending to drink less than 3 ounces of water.

James does not need that to avoid becoming a robot. He has thirty minutes of music that make life worth living.

A commercial advertising plastic surgery ends and the radio blinks 12:37. Slash shreds the guitar in the familiar tune and Axel screams “take me down to the paradise city.” James takes his tie from the passenger seat and wipes the sweat off his forehead, considering wearing the tie like a bandana and shouting along with Axel. A grin appears on his face and he reclines again. Paradise.

When the saints danced by Kendra Kravig

When the saints danced

Two by two

Down Canal Street

On that rainy Tuesday,

Two by two

We, as saints, danced

On a rainy Tuesday

Searching, always searching.

Should we saints dance,

In concentric circles,

Searching, always searching,

For our lost voices?

In concentric circles,

The jazz man croons,

With our lost voices,

Twirling like parasols.

The jazz man croons

Strains of disconnected love

Twirling, like parasols

Adrift in a veiled centre-ville.

Strains of disconnected love,

Trampled ‘neath our saintly feet,

Adrift, in a veiled centre-ville

Hand-in-hand, we walk.

Trampled ‘neath your saintly feet

Down on Canal Street,

Hand-in-hand, we walked,

When the saints danced.

Findin' Parasol's by Natalie Romero

She stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk,
One of millions that interrupt the walkways of N’awlins.
Cursin’ high heels and uneven pavement,
She soldiered on, searchin’ for Parasol’s.
Trees loomed, sparklin’ with remnants of Mardi Gras.
Fences glittered, beads and saints watchin’ her walk.
The air hugged her curves, heavy and humid,
Suckin’ the moisture from her body; sweat tricklin’ down her back.
Her feet hurt from traversin’ Bourbon Street,
Her hips from swayin’ to Jazz, her legs from dancin’.
But she kept on, down Constance,
3013, 3015, 3017—searchin’ for Parasol’s.
Friends had told her how good it was,
How she must eat there when she visited the Crescent City.
So she’d been thinkin’ of Parasol’s Po Boys and gumbo;
It was the best in N’awlins, they’d said.
Now, on her last night in town, she kept stumblin’
And soldierin’, though she was drunk on Hurricanes,
And high from loud music. Wanderin’ the Garden District,
She kept on searchin’ for Parasol’s.
The cell phone in her hand kept slippin’ from her grip
Tryin’ to escape her sweaty, eager fingers.
Her weary eyes, tired from the bright lights of bars and clubs,
Returned again to the address illuminated by text message.
3533 Constance Street, New Orleans, LA.
The houses said 3130, 3201, 3334.
Her head was achin’ to turn and admire where she was,
But time was runnin’ out—searchin’ for Parasol’s.
She didn’t even know if they would be open,
But she was on a mission now.
Surely it was just a few more blocks
Of splintered cement and increasin’ly downtrodden homes.
This was no longer the picturesque Garden District
That she’d seen in coffee table books and antique posters.
But over fractured paths trod by so many others before her,
She tripped and tumbled, searchin’ for Parasol’s.
Street lamps spotted the road with pinpricks of light,
Linin’ her way in uneven splotches of dim orange.
Wrought iron gates creaked, glimmering,
Bright blue and red beads were faded and lackluster in the darkness.
Two more stumbles, and there was one last intersection.
3531, said the lintel of the house on her right.
It must be across the street, she muttered.
But a small pale yellow house stood where she should have found Parasol’s.
She wobbled across the black road, lookin’ for a sign
That might tell her of roast beef Po Boys and some fries.
She circled the place, fallin’ over uneven patches of grass.
Where were the hours of business, the neon promises of Cajun cuisine?
3533 did not exist. She sat down on the parched grass, sweat ticklin’ her back,
Each drop an itch she didn’t have the energy to scratch.
Stomach sloshin’ uncomfortably with acidic alcohol,
She gave up on ever findin’ Parasol’s.
One last look at her phone. Heavy breath left her lungs
As she took one more chance. Parasol’s into Google.
Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant
2533 Constance Street, New Orleans, LA.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Zombie Haikus by Kendra, Renee and Natalie

Kendra and I, along with Ruthie, Edgar, Marjorie, Tami, Erica and Jessica of Poe & Co, read original creative works at the Sophomore Mentor Luncheon this week at LSU. If you know us, then you realize both Kendra and I love the darker things in life, as do many of the great thinkers in Poe & Co. We decided to come up with a few haikus...about zombies. During commercial breaks while watching the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead, Kendra, Natalie and I co-wrote a few lovely little ditties that reflect our apprehension about the upcoming 2012 zombie apocalypse. Yes, it's coming. Also coming is the video and podcast of the entire event, including a haiku workshop with original works by undergraduate and Poe & Co attendees, most of them as dry and witty as one would hope. For now, we hope your appetite for flesh is satiated by the following lovely haikus.

Zombie Haikus
By Kendra Kravig, Natalie Romero and Renee Hess
The heart so fragile--
gave us our humanity.
Now is finger food.
Your brains are tasty.
You're the only one I need.
Be my Valentine? 
You can have my heart
if I can eat your brains up.
Happy Valentine's!
My pretty girlfriend
so lovely on the outside
and tasty inside.
Full metal jousting
protects you from the zombies.
They can’t bite through steel.
Things we need to live
during the apocalypse:
Hum vee, shark bite suit.
Creepy zombie child
that chases me through the woods--
crying for mom’s brains.
Comic book nerds are easy.
Zombies chase the slow.
RPG’s aren’t exercise.
If you love zombies
and you know it, eat some brains
and maybe some toes.