Poetry Competion 2 2005/2006

Everyone please note that another poetry competition has already started and an even better, bigger prize will be handed out in orientation week at the start of next academic year to the new winner. Prizes to be announced!

Prize Winner and up-runners! Poetry Competition…

1/ Chalcedony Shoes

The black slippers had been with me for half of my lifetime.

Grown old, they had fallen apart.

Zippers still intact, that spiny sound of an ascending keyboard or

A persons feet racing up a circular staircase sends me into a nostalgic muse.

I didn’t like them at first when mum brought them in with the shopping.

Ugg boots were what I wanted, not old man shoes.

“Practical”, she said, “They were all I could find”.

Conceding in my pragmatic way they have been with me since.

A thin woolen lining like buffed skin to shield my feet from the elements needed the

Additional protection of socks. A design fault, certainly, if these slippers were an animal

They would soon die out in the race a hopeless cause; they needed something else to survive.

An ancient shoe, as they lived with me I began to like them more. The gray rubber sole

Was durable and never let in the wet from an outside lawn or a messy bathroom.

It was only as they were shedding layers like a snake that I took heed to their beauty.

The sole gained holes. The rubber, cross hatched with the poorly sown line of stitching

That held them together.

Deconstructed I pondered over each section and the hands that made them.

Is this slipper art?

The back heel was last to go, as a withering flower dies another blooms more brilliantly.

The material wore away. A cheap piece of cardboard was held between the wool, this

Flimsy junk that housed my skin was but bark off the tree lined in a green glad-wrap that

Was clearly salvaged from rubbish near the sweat-shop they were created in.

Tearing the cardboard away, the real treasure smothered my breath with a

Heart-wrenching awe. A fabric, soft as silk, deep maroon with flowers of yellow centers

Slightly faded but alive with fiery petals of green and orange. Blue wisps of string

Smothering them was ripped away with prying fingers to gaze at the inside of a slipper.

Never had I seen such hidden beauty as these crystallized stones of blood hidden behind

Walls of slender fibers in parallel bands.

2/ Out in my Backyard

i Awake to the gentle caress of the warm, humid breeze
In a swaying hammock, groaning with content
i sit myself up, Stay the hammock’s swing
Smell the uneven grass, bathed in morning dew

A sea of radiant gold pries open my sluggish eyes
The golden hue of the raggedy grass sharpens my focus
How could one trade gold for jade?
Though the diggers have left much gold remains

Kookaburra cackle as i find my morning feet
The old verandah mourns that i turn towards the door
Little Black Willy scrabbles over the tin roof above
Maggie cries in my ear – stay a little longer

Though my fingers touch the splintered door i turn back to the sun
It nows shimmers and shines as grass brushes my sole
i twinge slightly as Gecko traverses my palm
Swat as Fly darts pointlessly around

Then there in my yard limitless life!
A flock of Galah and the sight of Warratah
A music more than any symphony, orchestral
An uplifting rhapsody! i remain enraptured, till Cricket sings his closing hymn…

3/ I am Arthur

I am Arthur
Searching
For the Holy Grail
Not realising
This quest
Will steal away
What I love most

I am Icarus
Aiming
Higher than I should
Then falling
To sea
Sink or swim
I’ve made my choice

I am Midas
Obsessing
For the priceless touch
Then finding
Like lead
Gold will also
Drag me down

I am Me
Emotions
Not quite detached
Failing
To distance
Myself
From our lust

4/ A beautiful mind

“Everybody will go some day!” He proclaimed.

I thought he seemed scared, Anxious. He seemed so fragile yet so strong.

His illness has made him see differently.

What does he see that I don’t?

As we walked through the gardens

he winked at the lillies,

he whispered to the butterflies,

he told me of this garden’s secrets.

He has another scope.

His illness has moulded his mind, I thought.

For the better.

His imagination, somewhat childish,

was most appreciative.

He gave the lillies character,

he gave the butterflies a reason to

Be. They became his companion.

I watched in utter amusement.

This was emotional. Lovely.

The garden became a secret.

His secret.

His illness has made him better.

It has made him see what I don’t see,

what many don’t see.

He doesn’t seem scared. Or anxious.

He knows better.

5/ REAL vs. IDEAL

Skanky parasitic creatures multiply forth.

Devour every item. Mouth and earth are yours.

Blotch eternal

from a symptomatic inherited obsessive legacy

of control?

(or lack thereof).

No blotch.

Universe expands, then contracts like a balloon deflated.

The Big Crunch.

The blink of an eye.

6/ The Algarve

I left Portugal
The mingled bright lights
The cobbled pavement
The glasses glitter

Ice cold salt water
Splash the Atlantic
The cooling beach sand
At night the brass band

Proud light of day shines
The breakfast sublime
The solar eclipse
How the beach waves rip

Moroccan fever
Still moist wind in hair
The white line is grand
Hurry see the band

Out in the country
Burnt landscape oh my!
Bright red omber sun
Cool night sparking star.

The half red sun brave
The moon revel shade
Anonymity!
Stand high cliffs reach sky

Utopian mass
Tranquil land soothe soul
No city burden
Leaves, tiles, simple life

Consoled and at peace
Street beat wild, how neat
At sea boats lull, rock
Memories are locked.

Poetry Competition Winner! See Poetry Community!

Results of the uni Poetry Competition October 2005-10-20

Will the winner please make contact with Michael Griffith to collect this year’s first prize. Will all place getters also re-submit their winning poems (together with a photo) to the Poetry Community (this is not compulsory but it would be a nice gesture!)
This document will be posted into all WebCT Literature units and into LiveJournal Poetry Community: http://www.livejournal.com/community/poetrywcom/

The judges decisions are final.
Judges were:
Carolyn G
Olivia P
Rebecca I
Launcelot R
Michael G

1st Prize went to the poem “Chalcedony Shoes” published 12/09 by http://www.livejournal.com/users/publicdna/
Alias David N: congratulations David.(1st year)

The following were the next placegetters:

2nd “Out in my Backyard” published 25/07 by
http://www.livejournal.com/users/shaunfarlow/
Alias Shaun F: congratulations Shaun.

3rd “I am Arthur” published 16/09 by
http://www.livejournal.com/users/ms_cellaneous/
Alias Jennifer S: congratulations Jennifer

4th “A Beautiful Mind” published 18/09 by
http://www.livejournal.com/users/stepha1/
Alias Stephanie A: congratulations Stephanie

5th “Real vs Ideal” published 19/09 by
http://www.livejournal.com/users/daniel_gleeson/
Alias Daniel Gleeson: congratulations Daniel

6th “The Algarve” published 7/09 by
http://www.livejournal.com/users/Archie74/
Alias Yasmin C: congratulations Yasmin

These were the best six from a massive number of poems contributed to the Poetry LiveJournal Community hosted by Michael Griffith as part of the Literature Units at uni. Many of the contributing poets are “first-time” poets and this includes several of those gaining a place in the first six.
Selecting these 6 was not easy and there are definitely a number of other VERY talented young poets who deserve to be in this list…. but a competition IS a competition and the best thing that it has achieved is that it has encouraged many young writers to test their writing “wings”. So well done to you all.
The Poetry Community will CONTINUE UNABATED during the recess. Contributions are invited from ALL students at uni (irrespective of their subject specialization). There is a distinct possibility that this community will go NATIONAL….

Here are a few of the judges comments on the winning poems:

1. Chalcedony Shoes

Initially I liked the imagery and form. The long lines and the seperation of lines suggested age and disintegration, like the shoes. I then researched “chalcedony” in Answers.com and realised the author was linking the hidden beauty and treasured nature of these shoes with a mineral quartz, called Chalcedony and possibly semi-precious, hidden in the earth. I found it clever and nostalgic.

Wonderful use of similes that take you way beyond themselves into their widest context, including their history. And what a wonderful surprising ending… a real ephiphany!

2. Out in my Backyard

This poem has an emotional quality to it. There is a sense of slumbering awareness in the beginning but warmth, light and the character of the day draw you in. Everything has a personality, even the verandah, and it all draws you back to the joy and wonder of a beautiful day outside. I particularly liked the sense of friendship the writer experiences with the creatures in the garden. They are not ‘the’ kookaburra or ‘the’ fly but my friends, kookaburra and fly. A touch of “Wind in the Willows”.

…out in my backyard (beautiful imagery, nive and flowing to read and the australian subject/influence is a nice change!)

What an amazing transformation of an ordinary scene into something beautiful and extraordinary! Great sense of imagery, rhythm and form.

3. I am Arthur

The use of myth drew me to this poem. Arthur, Icarus and Midas, all struggling for something they value personally but each goal brings something they had not considered or wanted. The author of this poem links his/herself to myth and fails also to achieve the desired outcome. I also found the form very interesting and the fact that each line of
each stanza is almost identical in word length. The last stanza differs more in this way but to me this says that while “I” am the myth “I” am also capable of choosing the
situation or changing it.

I am Arthur – I liked the way this poem finds a unique meaning in famous legends and its ability to express a contemporary view – especially of the self.

I am arthur (cleverly written, quite personal and revealing but only if the audience reads between the lines a bit. i like that.)

4. A Beautiful Mind – for the wonderful simplicity of the diction used conveying an innocence, an insightfulness that portrays the themes expressed in the poem.

Great subject focussed in the line “His illness made him better”. Written with real feeling and understanding.

5. real vs ideal (love this poem because it is unexpected, a great move away from the cliche of bad “teenage poetry” [i hope objective value judgements are allowed!])

Terrific sense of form as the universe e x p a n d s and then comes to a CRUNCH… great taste for the effective and unusual word.

6. The best out of this group is definitely “The Algarve” – its vivid sensory description, the alliterations used, the beat, rythm and flow of the poem has made it a very captivating piece of work. This poem takes you there.

End of Week 12

Thank you all (first, second and third year) for you talent, enthusiasm and commitment in putting on a raft of plays in this last week. We had performances of 20thCentury plays by Pinter, Beckett, Edson and Stoppard, Australian plays A Hard God, Coralie Lansdowne Says No, The Cakeman and How Does Your Garden Grow. In Third year we had a raft of presentations around the life and work of William Blake, poet, painter and revolutionary thinker. There are some suggestions that maybe next year Literature students should put ALL their talents togetherand produce one BIG play… sounds a great idea… only a little daunting if it means trying to assess everyone fairly!!!

By the way – did you all take note that Harold Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature just this week! Check out the following:
http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/2005/
http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1482078.htm

The poetry competition is being assessed as we speak: I have the recommendations in from three judges. The fourth is to come. Then these recommendations will be sifted, sent back to the judges and the top three will be named with the prize going to the top one.

This has been such a success in terms of drawing out talent and inspiring non-writers to try their hand that I am keen to keep up the energy into this community. So my plan is this: another competition starts immediately. The next prize will be even bigger and better and will be drawn during orientation week 2006 as a wonderful kick into next year. I will be again calling for a panel of judges. But I have an additional idea (and maybe you have some ideas too): many of you clearly have good, very good working knowledge of what makes a poem “kick”, what makes it “live”. This is a great knowledge to have! In fact once you have this knowledge your 80% there in terms of your understanding and appreciation of how literature works. So it is an amazingly important piece of knowledge, wisdom, call it what you will. So I want to harness this knowledge and use it so that those who know can help those who don’t.
How can we do this. I think we need a panel of judges who are also experts (of a kind…. I am talking about you! not some expert from outside the uni) and who can give real ongoing advice to budding poets. This would be wonderful for the budding poets, but also a great opportunity for those who are sort of experts to hone their skills…. what do you think? do you catch my drift? So a rolling panel of expert judges…. so how do THEY get to submit their poems into the community, into the competition????
Well that is easy.
They submit like everyone else, but their contributions are assessed by a panel of MORE expert judges (myself maybe??? dare I say??? and maybe someone else on uni faculty: chaplain/ dean of students etc)… so they get the opportunity to be included too… with a special “judges” category….
How is all this sounding… I know it is still very early.

Competition results should be up by mid-week at the latest. Prize winner will be called!
Cheers
MG

So just to repeat:
Poetry Competition Round 2 has now commenced and will be judged during orientation week. Prize will be displayed shortly.
Team of “expert” judges called for: volunteers please send me your details and credentials!!!! (just joking).

Chinua Achebe- Last Tutorial of 2005 !

We had an excellent concluding tutorial on Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (in second year). Thank you all for your creative input. Yes, once one has read Things Fall Apart it is possible to be more sympathetic towards Achebe’s thrashing of Conrad (my hero!). While Conrad’s heart is definitely in the right place, it is true that he doesn’t have Achebe’s insider vision. Achebe obviously has a first-hand, intimate knowledge of tribal life, its highs and lows, its vision, wisdom and cruelties. So we see the essential humanity of Okonkwo’s tribe (with its failings); and so we can see with more understanding just how devastating was the impact of Western ideologies on this country. I think however that we needed Conrad to turn a sharp critical gaze at the damage caused by Empire, but we then needed Achebe to take us deeply into just where that damage was most critical. Thank you all again. And keep watching this space for news about next semester’s units.
MG

Things Fall Apart

Turning and Turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…. W.B. Yeats “The Second Coming”

These words are the inspiration for the title of Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
Both Yeats and Achebe are in a certain sense Post-Colonialsts in that they are both challenge the imperialism of the so-called “mother” country, tyrannous, bullying England!

This is the place to define briefly what Post-Colonial means. It means, in fact, the writing produced by those countries who were colonized by the imperialist colonizers (for a good definition of the difference between “colonialism” and “imperialism” have a look at page 2017 in the Norton. Basically the Post-colonialists were writers/ artists/ musicians who dared to challenge the imperialists, dared to suggest that colonization had not been really beneficial. So Achebe’s novel is a challenge to the European mentality that saw itself as bringing enlightenment to darkest Africa. So why then is Achebe so against Conrad (as we saw on page 2035 of Norton?). It is because Achebe thinks that Conrad doesn’t really understand what was actually going on in Africa; Achebe thinks that Conrad’s vision is that of an outsider.
After reading Things Fall Apart I think it is hard not to agree partly with Achebe. Achebe’s unsentimentalized descriptions of the power, beauty and strength of the African tribes leaves Conrad’s descriptions for dead! Look at the wonderful descriptions of the feasts and rituals on pages 2632 and 2669 for example. Look also at the beautifully balanced way in which Achebe describes the flawed heroic protagonist Okonkwo on the first page of the novel (2617) and then compares him with his artist father Unoka. Clearly Unoka is something of a loser, but he has spirit, creativity and a wonderful relationship to his art…. So Achebe paints a very balanced and unbiassed view of his African characters.
Now Part 1 of this novel is all about the African Civilization…. unsentimentalized, it depicts the good, the bad and the ugly. Part II of the novel takes us into the unfeeling world of the colonizers (See pages 2673, 2677). They have come to impose their faith (2682) and don’t seem to understand anything of the true needs of the African tribes (2692). The last page of the novel 2705-06 presents a devestatingly ironic picture of the District Commisioner’s patronizing view of the tribal Africans about whom he is writing a book (which will no doubt earn him some kind of professorship back home!!!):

He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger. (2706).

In tutorials this week we also looked briefly at the work of that other Post-colonialist, the Caribbean author Derek Walcott (page 2582). He is an amazing poet who explores the tensions in himself between black and white. We will hopefully have a chance to look at the poems “A Far Cry from Africa” (2580) and “The Glory Trumpeter” (2582) in tutorials this week.
Please come with all your questions!
MG

I have just been re-reading some of these fantastic nineteenth century Australian poems. Charles Harpur’s “Midsummer Noon in the Australian Forest” and “The Creek of the Four Graves” are amonst my favourite. Harpur’s landscape is very like that of John Glover in its powerful, majestic, awe-inspiring mood. And Harpur wields his words like Glover wields his paint-brush; every nuance of mood and tone is exctracted through his long rolling sentences, his sonorous word choice, his clever rhymes and his atmospheric similes. He really gives a taste of what it was like to experience our landscape 200 years ago. Who needs time-travel, when have such a fantastic “living” interpreter as Charles Harpur. His protege was Henry Kendall and it is amazing to see how within a mere 20 years so much has changed. Kendall’s poem “A Death in the Bush” is like the next stage of European colonization. Here is the story of the bushie (the shepherd) who is struggling to maintain his flocks against a backdrop of hostile landscape. The story has not changed that much in the last 200 years. Kendall’s poem is equally awe-inspiring and mythic in its resonances.
Next I came to Lawson and Paterson. This is in interesting pairing. Lawson, inspired by radical labour politics is concerned to undermine the idealized view of the landscape promoted by the likes of Paterson. For Lawson, the Patersonian view of the bush is inaccurate because it distorts the real conditions of those who have to live in the bush to earn their living. These poets, taken together, give a fascinating insight into both the landscape and politics of the end of the 19th Century in Australia. Lawson’s “Up the Country” is a blistering attack on those who falsify the image of the bush through their lack of real concern for the human issues facing Australia in the 1890s:

I am back from up the country, up the country where I went…
I have shattered many idols out along the dusty track,
Burnt a lot of fancy verses- and I am glad that I am back.
I believe the Southern poet’s dream will not be realized
Till the plains are irrigated and the land is humanized…
“Up the Country” page 309 in “Australian Verse”

Help needed!

If anyone can tell me how to bring the text of my last entry in from the right margin (so that it can all be seen on the computer screen without having to scroll across…. ) I would be made very happy 🙂
MG

Report on Cairns Conference

Hope you can all indulge me this one. I had to put in a brief report on my conference paper in Cairns. Some of this may be of interest because it shows the way my thinking is headed. Thank you to all those who submitted comments on your use of LiveJournal- I simply was not able to include them all. But what is here is very representative. So thank you again:

Michael Griffith (Literature) : Report on WebCT Asia-Pacific Conference, Cairns 18th-21st September.

This was a great conference in the way it placed WebCT in the wider context of new developments in educational technology. Professor John Hedberg (Millenium Chair in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) at Macquarie University) gave a fascinating key-note on the way technology is still being used to support old paradigms of teaching. There is a real need to recognize and understand the ways that the new technologies can force a paradigm shift in which education can become dramatically more interactive and community driven. His explorations in the use of open-source LAMS (Learning Activity Management System) as an adjunct to WebCT helped to extend the boundaries of a conference driven by a single American software company.

My own paper was along similar lines to Professor Hedberg’s. I presented a “Showcase” on my use, this year, of LiveJournal Blogging, which I have added into the core of WebCT in all my units. I began this as an experiment in an effort to find a place within WebCT where students could keep a journal of their learning in literature. Little did I know that it would become a dynamic way of expanding the walls of WebCT, helping to create communities within, between and beyond my current literature units, helping to create a space for creative writing (poetry, stories, reviews) and for lively debates (on the New Orleans fiasco for example). Essentially, what LiveJournal has provided is an interactive space where students can more comfortably express their own personality, their own interests, along with their response to the unit content. It has also provided me, as lecturer, a space to give more relaxed and cohesive input on the content for all my literature units. The experiment has provided a technology that has assisted me in my own goals to subvert the limiting top-down educational paradigms that are still part of the Academic scene in Australia. The Quaker educationalist Parker Palmer in his wonderful book The Courage to Teach has the following very apposite quotes that I managed to weave into my conference presentation:

“If we regard truth as something handed down from authorities on high, the classroom will look like a dictatorship…. If we regard truth as emerging from a complex process of mutual enquiry, the classroom will look like a resourceful and interdependent community.”

“… our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains. When we teach by dripping information into their passive forms, students who arrive in the classroom alive and well become passive consumers of knowledge and are dead on departure when they graduate…. we rarely consider that students may die in the classroom because we use methods that assume they are dead.”

• Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach, Jossey-Bass, 1996:

The title of my paper was WebCT with LiveJournal: 5 C’s: Community, Collaboration, Connection, Creativity, Cohesion. My subtitle was “Expanding the boundaries of the humanities using LiveJournal with WebCT”.

The paper was very well received and I was able to make some important collaborative connections with other universities to continue my explorations in the new technologies.

Here are a collection of comments from my own students (form 1st, 2nd and 3rd years) about their experience of using LiveJournal within WebCT:

“The biggest benefit I have found using LiveJournal actually comes from being able to read other students “work”. Acquaintances have become good friends, and LiveJournal has been the catalyst for that. I went to uni for 2 years with the people in this current English class and it was only last semester, through reading their musings on the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to or the football that they follow that I felt like I was getting to know them. Personally, I found it broke down walls and the dynamic of the students in the unit began to change and become incredibly cohesive.”
Joanne 3rd year.
http://www.livejournal.com/users/jo_r_lucas/

“LiveJournal has created a great launching pad for my creative writing. Because of its ease and accessibility my writing does not end up in some forgotten scrapbook, its amazing to think that peers, tutors and even the world have access to my work!”
Shaun 1st year
http://www.livejournal.com/users/shaunfarlow/

“If livejournal didn’t exist I don’t think I would have ever discovered my liking for writing poetry. It allows me to share my poetry and to also be inspired by other student’s poetry!”
Great idea!
Stephanie
http://www.livejournal.com/users/stepha1/

“I have found live journal to be an excellent resource, ironically at the beginning of the year i thought it would be a waste of time. It provides a space where i can creatively air anything at all in an informal way. It’s great because previously we haven’t had a creative outlet… Now we do!!! It also means i can share my ideas and hear my fellow students thoughts as well. I now rave about it!!!!”
Danielle
http://www.livejournal.com/users/dani_aurisch/

“I like the fact that I have the freedom to write what I want, and not be too worried about grammar etc. Livejournal allows you to write freely and then use your ideas to formulate assignments etc. When I go out into the “big wide teaching world” I hope that I can introduce this technology to my own students. If I had of known about an online journal I would have done it sooner, cause I can add graphics and pics of my own…IT’S GREAT!!”
Joanne
http://www.livejournal.com/users/jo_ea_nn/

“Live Journal has become addictive for me! It’s great because it’s a place where I can write down my thoughts on various things we read and look at in literature and where I can get some feedback from other people. It’s also entertaining/enlightening reading what other people write as well so I think it’s a very good learning tool!”
Karla
http://www.livejournal.com/users/karliefarlie/

Using live Journal has allowed me to escape from the drudgery of essay writing that is so much a part of most university courses and units. It is an outlet to be creative writers, not just academic writers. It also allows one to delve into a new medium of technology such as live journal and the ease with which one can communicate their thoughts is endless.
Fadia (year 2)
http://www.livejournal.com/users/fadia/

“I think LiveJournal is great, it allows us to explore as well as view the different emotions of everyday experiences. It also gives us an insight into the study of literature and the texts we are studying that we may not have picked up on our own.”
Chadia (year 1)
http://www.livejournal.com/users/chadiachallita/

“I am enjoying the community forum more than my own personal writing (the debate is my favourite! in fact I would like to add thoughts to another debate if we have time…) It is interesting to read what others think and then have the opportunity to write back to that. I know we can access everyone’s journal, but having a community allows for that all in the one go, with a variety of responses!”
Andrea (year 2)
http://www.livejournal.com/users/andie_0806/

Michael Griffith.

Hi guys- flat out writing exam papers and getting on top of marking this week. There is a price to pay for galavanting around the top end!!. See you all next week when I will be able to give you clearer insights on what exactly is in your exam. Have a profitable study week!
Cheers
MG

Cairns Etc

Hi all… and thank you for your many well-wishings… I am writing this in an internet cafe in the main street of Cairns. It is around 7pm, dark and very warm outside. I have just spent an hour or so trying to troubleshoot the troops back home… but all does seem to moving relatively well.
The conference on WebCT has officially finished now. But I have also, between times managed to explore some of the amazing world of bio-diversity around Cairns: rainforest, coral reef. They say Cairns is surrounded by the greatest variety of plant and animal life anywhere in the world. Yesterday we drove out to an inland swamp teeming with birds and watched two giant Saltwater Crocs engaging in courtship among the lilly pads…. an awesome sight. The rainforest has cycads (for lovers of Judith Wright) that are over a thousand years old and tower nearly 10 metres into the air. And yes I did also manage an afternoon trip onto the reef! What an amazing, incredible wonder world of colour and life under the surface of this brilliant blue ocean: blues, greens, oranges, yellows… and every other colour under the sun, swirling around the most extraordinary sculptural designs of coral. At 5am I have to back at the airport so now I better go and get an early night… Cheers MG

Cairns- Conference and other matters

Hello all! It has been a blast in Cairns! both the heat, the fantastic tropical environment and the conference with speakers from all around the world. Hearing teachers around the world talking about the way the internet is transforming their teaching was a mind stretching experience. University education is going through a huge revolution (the biggest shift since the invention of the book in the 1400s!). The internet is without doubt providing a way for more flexible learning experiences and for ways of deepening communities and contacts in this excessively busy world of ours. There is so much to learn and it will take me a few weeks to digest it all. But I was extremely proud to present such a range of positive comments from first, second and third year Literature students about their on-line experiences. My presentation here was very well received. The title of the paper was “WebCT with LiveJournal: 5 C’s: Creativity, Community, Connection, Collaboration, Cohesion- Expanding Interactive Learning in the Humanities”. Sounds a mouthful… and I did try to prune it… but when you only have 45 minutes to tell people about a year’s worth of teaching, you try to get as much into the title as you can. What I especially enjoyed telling my audience that using LiveJournal and WebCT was helping me to move away from the old top-down paradigm of teaching where students were required to sit quietly and soak up their professors brilliance!!!!@#$$%%??? The new technologies are helping to change this. Here is a wonderful quote from one of my current gurus, Palker Palmer (he is an American Quaker who wrote the book “The Courage to Teach”- I can recommend it to all):

“… our assumption that students are brain-dead leads to pedagogies that deaden their brains. When we teach by dripping information into their passive forms, students who arrive in the classroom alive and well become passive consumers of knowledge and are dead on departure when they graduate…. we rarely consider that students may die in the classroom because we use methods that assume they are dead.”
Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

For everyone’s benefit here are just a few of your comments (1st, 2nd and 3rd year) that I actually used in my presentation (they really helped to give my paper an immediacy… this was not just theoretical stuff, but it was based on real-live students! so thank you all again:

“The biggest benefit I have found using LiveJournal actually comes from being able to read other students “work”. Acquaintances have become good friends, and LiveJournal has been the catalyst for that. I went to uni for 2 years with the people in this current English class and it was only last semester, through reading their musings on the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to or the football that they follow that I felt like I was getting to know them. Personally, I found it broke down walls and the dynamic of the students in the unit began to change and become incredibly cohesive.”
Joanne
http://www.livejournal.com/users/jo_r_lucas/

“LiveJournal has created a great launching pad for my creative writing. Because of its ease and accessibility my writing does not end up in some forgotten scrapbook, its amazing to think that peers, tutors and even the world have access to my work!”
Shaun
http://www.livejournal.com/users/shaunfarlow/

“If livejournal didn’t exist I don’t think I would have ever discovered my liking for writing poetry. It allows me to share my poetry and to also be inspired by other student’s poetry!”
Great idea!
Stephanie
http://www.livejournal.com/users/stepha1/

“I have found live journal to be an excellent resource, ironically at the beginning of the year i thought it would be a waste of time. It provides a space where i can creatively air anything at all in an informal way. It’s great because previously we haven’t had a creative outlet… Now we do!!! It also means i can share my ideas and hear my fellow students thoughts as well. I now rave about it!!!!”
Danielle
http://www.livejournal.com/users/dani_aurisch/

“I like the fact that I have the freedom to write what I want, and not be too worried about grammar etc. Livejournal allows you to write freely and then use your ideas to formulate assignments etc. When I go out into the “big wide teaching world” I hope that I can introduce this technology to my own students. If I had of known about an online journal I would have done it sooner, cause I can add graphics and pics of my own…IT’S GREAT!!”
Joanne
http://www.livejournal.com/users/jo_ea_nn/8590.html

“I think LiveJournal is great, it allows us to explore as well as view the different emotions of everyday experiences. It also gives us an insight into the study of literature and the texts we are studying that we may not have picked up on our own.”
Chadia
http://www.livejournal.com/users/chadiachallita/

“Live Journal has become addictive for me! It’s great because it’s a place where I can write down my thoughts on various things we read and look at in literature and where I can get some feedback from other people. It’s also entertaining/enlightening reading what other people write as well so I think it’s a very good learning tool!”
Karla
http://www.livejournal.com/users/karliefarlie/26095.html

“I am enjoying the community forum more than my own personal writing (the debate is my favourite! in fact I would like to add thoughts to another debate if we have time…) It is interesting to read what others think and then have the opportunity to write back to that. I know we can access everyone’s journal, but having a community allows for that all in the one go, with a variety of responses!”
Andrea
http://www.livejournal.com/users/andie_0806/

What a great session with David Malouf yesterday. Thank you all for your attendance and questions. David Malouf said what a lively and intelligent group of students you all were… More on this soon….
MG

A memorable day: two wonderful texts to speak about- David Malouf’s The Conversations At Curlow Creek and Margaret Edson’s play Wit.

Both texts are concerned with stripping away the last illusions about ourselves. The protective images we hold up to the world (and to ourselves) that protect our full humanity from really emerging. William Blake would have seen both these works as extraordinary dramatizations of the protective ego at work…. holding fast to its comfort zone, its securities.

In the case of Adair, the dissolving of the ego, of the externally tough personality of the policeman, the lawmaker is more sudden and thorough than in the case of Vivian Bearing in Wit. Adair softens to Daniel Carney’s plight almost immediately… but remember this is like the end point of Adair’s story. This is time present – after a long history of being one of the “authorities” – on the side of the British law. Now this veneer is about to crumble as he discovers – miraculously enough- that the man he is about to hang might have been the last man to see his long-last childhood companion – Fergus…. Is it possible? At all events a powerful bond grows between Adair and Carney during the night in the hut…. and what is the outcome in the morning as Adair has to supervise the HANGING (!!!) of the one man who might be a link to his (Adair’s) meaningful childhood past. Wow… what an incredibly well woven narrative… so much more to say…

But in the case of Vivian Bearing in Wit…. while she has been a highly successful, brilliantly respected, world-class (the list can go on!) literary academic, she now has to face the ignominious lot of every one of us… Ashes to Ashes in fact…. (the Pinter play lurks in the background… just as much as Harold Pinter himself playing a brilliantly detached, Pinteresque, humanly indifferent father to Vivian as a child (Soporific!!!))…. DEATH!
And how does she cope? Is her death as painful, as agonized as that of Ivan Illych, or Mister Kurtz…. does she go gracefully? does she gain understanding? does she recognize her failures? Or is this play a reflection on the tragedy of one who, clinging too obsessively to her position in life (as a way of self-protection)… has protected herself from life itself….
The tragedy of being visited near death by the only woman who showed some feeling for her as a young student….
This play is so much about how the omission of feeling in life is a crucial omission… one that can lead to a real mechanization, dehumanization: Carlyle’s words still resound: Man is grown mechanical in Head and Heart as well as in Hand…. and of course it was the medical profession itself which is thoroughly exposed in this play as being – maybe- symbolic of the lack of true feeling in so much of our society.
And I couldn’t help thinking about New Orleans when watching the nurse Suzie… here, one of the less advantaged members of the US of A… demonstrating real feeling and humanity… This throws so much of what we value in our society into a critical perspective.
And what an incredible film production it was: minimalist and yet realist… the REAL hospital ward…. the UNREAL hospital ward… What is REAL/ UNREAL…. where, what, when, how, is REALITY…. for Margart Edson, primary school teacher…. it clearly is in the heart…. Charles Dickens showing through here again as well.

Over and out!

Conversations at Curlow Creek

With first and third year we began work on this wonderful book this week- in preparation for David Malouf himself who will be coming in person to our classes next week. Today with the third years I gave a sweeping overview of the key themes in this book, concentrating on the way in which Malouf takes two human beings and explores their essential common humanity despite their social differences. The novel is built around this very clever idea: lawmaker meets lawbreaker in a confined space and during the night before the planned execution law maker discovers that he has far more in common with the lawbreaker than he would ever have anticipated. Like Helen Garner’s Joe Cinque’s Consolation this book again questions the value of the Law as an instrument for producing a well balanced society.
Prizes were given out today for the best web presentation on William Blake’s impact on the modern world: go Mel, Mike and Lisa!!!

Teaching Week 8

Some new developments this week in LiveJournal. Second years came up with the idea of conducting a debate on some hot contemporary issue. The subject was New Orleans…. how such a wealthy nation could fail to know how to respond adequately to its own people. This topic is something that will relate centrally to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. It will also relate to David Malouf’s Conversations at Curlow Creek. So here is a wonderful way to get first and second years to debate a hot topic in the open lines of a LiveJournal Community: Discussion & Debates Community. We will then transfer this debate across to the WebCT Discussion forum where the debate will focus in on each of the two books mentioned above. Both classes will then complete this debate by having a public debate during a lecture time…. let’s hope that it all works out and that we learn something in the process. Thank you to all of you who are helping in this process. If you know of someone in your group who does not yet know how to get into a community then please give them a leg up! The poetry competition in the poetry community is also moving along at a rocketing pace… well done to all the contributors!
In 20th Century LIterature we began this week our excursion into Absurdist Theatre: this week Beckett and Pinter. Our text book from last year (Understanding Literature) is an invaluable resource here, with a wonderful chapter on the roots of Absurdism… there are some great web links in the Understanding Literature web site as well.
In Australian Literature we are tackling one of the hardest reads so far. David Malouf is demanding, but incredibly rewarding once you find your way into his mindset. This can only be done after a second read of this novel… so get your skates on! I look forward to getting a sheaf full of great questions from all first years… David thrives on questions.
Over and out
MG

William Blake Day

So today with my Blake class we finished our exploration of Blake’s poetry and paintings from the early Songs of Innocence and Experience through to the massive late work Jerusalem. Students were a little preoccupied with getting their internet assignments in today: I was amazed to see some of the fruits of this collaborative work. Individually they had to explore a range of internet sites on Blake; collectively, in groups of 3, they had to pool their best resources and produce a web site demonstrating the continuing presence of Mr William Blake in the modern world. They have all definitely graduated from being terrified and intimidated by the web to being power users who know how to get what they want to. And with William Blake as their subject -multi-media artist extraordinaire- they seem to have had a ball. Congratulations all. May the best web site win the promised box of exclusive chocolates!…. and all in the interests of promoting Mr William Blakespeare!

First day of Spring 2005

And outside the sunlight is glancing off the gumleaves against a brilliant blue sky! Working in my office at home today- getting lectures ready on William Blake for Friday morning. Took puppy and her mum for a walk at the crack of dawn… puppy (called “Tipsy”) has boundless, endless energy…. charging into Mum “Molly” knocking her for six… oh the joys of being a bundle of pup! Moving, mobile, mighty, magnificent p..u..p..p..y!!! Yesterday we had a great debate in Australian Literature on Helen Garner’s Joe Cinque’s Consolation. This provoked a lot of interest and a lot of strong points of view. It is an amazing work of literature I think in that it uses the resources of creative writing to challenge the rationalist and scientific attitudes that prevail in our society. Here literature is the instrument of LIFE, offering consolation to Joe, to his family and to a world in which common decency and feeling for others is in short supply. The debate has provoked some real enthusiasm for a continuation of this mode of teaching…. this is excellent if it stimulates deep thought and real interest in the underlying issues of our reading. We now need to get our skates on for David Malouf’s visit in a fortnight…

Tuesday August 30th

The most important thing in my teaching/learning day is to make some space at the start of the day for unstructured, free-wheeling contemplation. This morning this meant going for a long walk to the Bird-Hide in Homebush Bicentennial Park, reconnecting with greenery, with the life of water birds and with the early history of Sydney … the two-up games played in the Mangrove swamps during the depression, the ship Hulks derelict from the Second World War and earlier… the reclamation of this amazing tract of land from the industry that squatted there up to 10 ten years ago… now it boasts one of the last remaining stands of salt-flat- spinifex along the banks of the Parramatta River…. and water birds migrate here from Siberia!
And then some space for reflection and gathering of thoughts for the day: much to be done… but not to allow it to crowd my thinking. One thing at a time, with attention, with care, with joy…
Yesterday we circled around Virginia Woolf in 20thC Literature. I spoke about her and Katherine Mansfield and George Orwell… as all committed to letting the “Truth” emerge from the hierarchical structures and the structures of deception which “Society” creates around us all. So in the hands of these masters of Literature, the creative Word, IS the word of liberation… and, each in their own way experiments with language, almost like an instrument of magic, seeing how it can penetrate through the tough surface texture of “Untruth” which crowds us all in…
Strangely the same theme is appearing in the text we are doing in Australian Literature: Helen Garner’s Joe Cinque’s Consolation; this is an extraordinary book that has at its heart a feelingful quest to redeem the murdered Joe Cinque from the indifference and deception that surrounds his mysterious death. His parents in particular, Maria and Nino, are the silent sufferers who our law courts really make no allowance for. Helen Garner, in the role of the Angel of LIterature, uses LIterature here to save society from its own worst rigidities. The rationalistic, unfeeling Law, which we have produced, is shown to be deeply wanting in what human beings truly need. But the book goes further: it dares to suggest that our whole society has essentially been shaped by the forces that shaped the legal system. Unlike more “primitive” societies, where more credit is given to the domain of feeling, of conscience, of love… our society bends to the rationalist legal eagles, accepts their judgments as final… goes along with the status quo… privately perhaps hating it, but fundamentally approving of a system designed to privilege the individual over the group. Leave us alone our society cries… I want my way… I don’t really want to think about the suffering of anyone else….
In this context I was deeply struck a few weeks ago by a talk I attended by an Aboriginal Elder- a woman- who spoke about Aboriginal Spirituality. The cornerstone of her talk was her declaration that for the Aboriginal every living thing that we meet in the day has to be regarded as a potential manifestation of the creator… and that if we live our life with this consciousness then all will be well.. this is how we should live… with care of others uppermost in our hearts…
But how difficult this is for us individualists, locked in a society where “I” is the holy icon to which we bow down day and night.

MG

I took Australian Literature students to the Art Gallery of NSW today to introduce them to the range of Australian art that is relevant to literary themes. We started with Lin Onus’ amazing “Hills Hoist” with its fruit bats and blossom/droppings on the ground. One student (Adam) perceptively noted the sinister mood of the bats whose eyes seemed to glare out at the viewer. We then viewed another mighty political work by a young Aboriginal which expressed his sense of the historical turning points in Aboriginal/white relations. The painting was called “White Man’s Burden” and had an Aboriginal figure in the centre reclaiming land after MABO. Later groups noticed how the centre of this painting was turning black… the myriad white spots were retreating from the force of this central figure. We then looked at Australian painting in reverse chronology, begining with recent art and then stepping back through the decades to the early nineteenth century. The high point of the afternoon was the lecture on and viewing of Margaret Preston’s work. She is an amazing artist who developed in so many ways during her life-time. Her special contribution is her appreciation and appropriation of Aboriginal art. The lecture made a very interesting comment to the effect that she was still very colonialist in her attitudes towards the Aboriginals, but she was also very appreciative of the quality of their work. Her paintings truly are a celebration of the distinctive character of the flora of Australia and also a unique quest for a genuine Australian aesthetic.
I also discovered a fascinating resource provided by the Art Gallery of NSW which allows you to search their gallery on-line and create your own annotated gallery of favourite paintings. If you want to try this go to http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/mvg
Over and out!

PS: for Twentieth Century Students it is worth noting that the Australian section in the NSW Gallery has also set up a special exhibtion of Australian paintings and sculptures that have been directly inspired by the work of T.S. Eliot, especially his “The Waste Land” and “Four Quartets”.

ACU LiveJournal Communities:

So I have created a number of LiveJournal Communities to try and see how many fish any of these communities can catch. You are welcome to join any of them. The link below tells you how to join a community. It is very easy. You simply go to the community, then go to the link at the top of the Community Info Page and CLICK where it says Click here. Once you have joined go back to your own personal LiveJournal page. When you want to write in your personal journal just go to Journal/Update and write. But if you want to write in any of the communities you have joined then go to Journal/Update and before writing scroll to the bottom of the page and where it says POST TO: select the community you want to post to. You can of course also write in your personal journal and then copy/cut and paste into a community…. then you have the benefit of an entry in two places at once!!!

Here is the official LiveJournal description about communities:
http://goathack.livejournal.org:8064/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqcat=community

And here are the Communities that are currently happening at ACU: Join one or more… the latest one (ACU LiveJournal Discussions and Debates’ Journal at: http://www.livejournal.com/community/acudiscuss/) is an effort to get real debates on hot issues (literary or other) happening around the UNI… and please tell other students to join… it does NOT need to be confined to our select Literature Students… although we do know that we ARE rather special!!!! So let’s see how all this takes off…. please send me feedback through WebCT email. Would also be very happy if anyone wants to share in the management and strategizing for any of these journals… all of which are designed to get us writing and thinking… collaboratively.

ACU LiveJournal Discussions and Debates’ Journal
http://www.livejournal.com/community/acudiscuss/

ACU Poetry Writing Community’s Journal
http://www.livejournal.com/community/poetrywcom/

ACU Book Review Community’s Journal
http://www.livejournal.com/community/bookrc/

ACU Short Story Community’s Journal
http://www.livejournal.com/community/shortstoryc/

BlakeBlog’s Journal
http://www.livejournal.com/community/acublakeblog/

Here’s some other stuff really worth reading:

Firstly a couple of reviews about LiveJournal:
http://www.ciao.co.uk/livejournal_com__Review_5481664
http://www.ciao.co.uk/livejournal_com__Review_5521327

Here’s an article about Washington Uni students who are using LiveJournal to build a Uni-wide Debate/Discussion Forum
http://www.studlife.com/news/2004/02/02/News/Students.Build.Community.Online-594352.shtml

Check this one out too (a site dedicated to news about LiveJournal) – the picture in this one is apparently made up of all the new LiveJournal photos of new users. On the site you can click on it and enlarge each image… I have not yet found my face!:

http://www.insanejournal.com/users/lj_news/5385.html?mode=reply

Computers and Spirituality!

Hello all- I am back in the land of the living (that is computer living!) My laptop has had its hard-drive replaced and I am ready to play russian roulette once more!
I must admit being without a computer for a few days has been like an amputation… but I have coped… and have actually tidied piles of papers on my desk which I never get near because the computer screen keeps screaming and demanding my attention!!!

However, let this be a lesson to everyone. I backed up all my data last Friday (onto and external drive) and on Saturday morning… after the long back-up process the Hard-Disk “fried”. I don’t know if that is a technical term, but it suffered catastrophic failure. And who knows why? The repairer said something about electrical surge….
At all events here is something you need to take on board:

Is a data backup solution part of your computer plans? Do you have a way to protect yourself if something goes wrong with your computer or data? Computers are a useful part of our lives but we don’t always protect ourselves from their loss be it fire, theft or hardware failure.

We often don’t consider how fragile our computer data really is. Do you keep sensitive information on your computer that you would be upset if you lost it? Not sure? Consider this. If I told you that I was going to format your hard drive right now and you will lose all of the information on your computer, would you be ready? Or would you need to get a few files first… If you are in the second group, chances are you don’t have a proper data backup solution in place to help you handle disasters. Lesson finished!

On another far more interesting topic, thursday last I took my daughter to hear an Aboriginal elder ( a woman by the name of MINMIA) speak about Aboriginal Spirituality. This was an amazing talk. Minmia spoke of the continuing traditions of spirituality in her community, but how it was very much under threat. I spoke to her about “Plains of Promise” and asked what she felt about the kind of pessimism at the end of that novel. She said: “it is all very fragile… much needs to be done to preserve our traditions. I was especially struck by her teaching that each day we need to really consider the possibility that it might be our last. If we look at each day like this then it makes a huge difference to how we treat people, events… everything in fact…. It gives a real edge to our experience, makes us profoundly grateful for each moment and more ready to give appropriate energy to the things that are most important in the day… rather than allowing our energy to fritter away in useless activities… and we all know how difficult it is to do just that!
More on this later.
MG

Australian Literature Week 3 contd

We completed work on Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise yesterday. Students seem to be genuinely interested in the concerns of this book. It is amazingly well written in parts and gives a real taste of the huge problems faced by Aboriginal communities in modern Australia. The closing pages of the book are bitter-sweet. They bring into focus the magically power of Aboriginal myth in summarizing and probing the contemporary situation, but they also leave one with a sense of the hopelessness of the situation… unless something is done about it by us!
Today’s session ended with our student “Sophists” think-tank group offering their views on some of the ways forward with LiveJournal and other unit-related issues. The presence of this group is really helping to create a more democratic development of teaching materials. I am very happy with the outcome so far.

Teaching Start of Week 3

20th Century Literature: Lectures yesterday on Conrad and Imperialism. I found it difficult yesterday to implement student interaction during the lecture. This was largely because I felt the pressure of time. One student last week observed that she felt she was not getting “enough content” in the lecture… so I felt some need to cover the topic before any discussion. Heart of Darkness is a wonderful work, but it is very hard to teach well because there is so much going on in those “few” pages. At the same time I am aware that students in general do have a real difficulty reading this work: it is so packed with images, metaphors, wide connotations. So I have a real challenge to hone my teaching to get the essence of this work across so that students are empowered to read it and understand it. During the tutorial I decide to spend a little time on this – to try to help to get a focus on the language. We looked at a couple of sentences at the end of the 3rd paragraph on the first page: Marlow’s descriptions of the sky and the sun setting over the city of London. This produced an energized class and some real understanding began to flow as we explored the literal and symbolic meaning of some of the key images… to do with light and sky… and then those wonderful descriptive words capturing the shape, feel and movement of the mist on the Essex marshes. That word “diaphanous” sticks in my mind… and what does it mean… Answers.com to the rescue:
di·aph·a·nous (dī-ăf’ə-nəs)
adj.
1. Of such fine texture as to be transparent or translucent: diaphanous tulle.
2. Characterized by delicacy of form. See synonyms at airy.
3. Vague or insubstantial: diaphanous dreams of glory.
[From Medieval Latin diaphanus, transparent, from Greek diaphanēs, from diaphainein, to be transparent : dia-, dia- + phainein, phan-, to show.]
di’a·pha·ne’i·ty (dī’ə-fə-nē’ĭ-tē) or di·aph’a·nous·ness n.
di·aph’a·nous·ly adv.

There- that is a wonderful exposition…. transparency is the one meaning we did not come up with yesterday… so a reminder to myself to always carry a dictionary to class!…. but this transparency also carries associations of soft winnowing movement as of lace… etc etc…

So if we could do this kind of intensive work on a few more sentences in Heart of Darkness we would be well away.
We then did some work on First World War Poets: chiefly Rupert Brooke’s “Soldier” and Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”… students picked up pretty quickly the difference in attitude and language in these two works… one from the start of the war, the other from near the end. These poems illustrate well the impact the war had on poetic language. The shift from Georgian sentimentality and jingoistic nationalism to hard-edged realism of the trenches..

jin·go·ism (jĭng’gō-ĭz’əm)
n.
Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism.- now isn’t Answers.Com a fantastic one-click tool!

During the lecture I also went rather quickly through some of the key ideas the group needs to know about Imperialism… especially as it relates to Ireland and to Chinua Achebe and his response to Conrad. I will have to put these lectures up to WebCT today.

In Australian Literature I lectured on Alexis Wright’s Plains of Promise: this wonderfully rich book on contemporary Aboriginal experience. We laughed at the episode where the corpse of Pilot Ah King nearly squashes the grave diggers… black humour indeed but exposing the ironies of racial and religious tensions in Queensland. Students seem to be very interested in this text.

As a result of reading last semester’s student evaluations last night I have had two thoughts. While students overall -with some complaints- seemed to benefit from LiveJournal, they found it too unstructured and they found the evaluation scheme attached too loose and unclear. I agree with this, but am not sure what to do about it. One student suggested creating LiveJournal themes that all could follow… if they wished to… that might help to give structure???? But the other issue seemed to be: how can students be encouraged to participate more in each other’s LiveJournals… or how could conversations or interactions be fostered between journals…. there is a challenge here to come up with the right answer.

End of Week 2

This week has been hectic because I am learning how to use Dreamweaver to put lectures and images up into WebCT. I have been told that Dreamweaver is the way to go, but at present it is very time consuming. But Wai-Leng is giving me a huge amount of assistance… so it is becoming possible. I am delighted to see that two of the special LiveJournal communities that were started are “happening”. Poetry and Bookreviews are starting to flood in. What a great resource and inspiration this will be. I have also just discovered a great little software program called “ECTO” for both PC and Mac that allows me to put LiveJournal blogs up onto the web using HTML. It also allows me to see and post into any of the communities that are up and running. For those of you keen to extend your HTML knowledge it is worth downloading it and giving it a try. It is free for 20 days and after that it costs around 20 bucks.
It has been a very stimulating week in class. Friday’s Blake class was lively. There were many questions and much discussion and I had to fight to actually get to my planned lecture. But my overall sense was that students were keen to understand some of the challenging ideas they tasted in Blake’s poetry, letters and paintings… I hope I can keep this momentum going. But I feel it all depends on not pushing the students too hard… allowing them to deal in their terms with what they can understand… and then from there taking them a gentle step further… and further… and further. It will be interesting to see how they handle discussions this week.
First year was dedicated to opening up the world of Aboriginal literature. We listened to Yothu Yindi and considered the question of whether the energy they put into their work has opened up new doorways for Aboriginal writers and artists? Alexis Wright’s novel is an indication of some kind of breakthrough to a new appreciation of the place of the Aboriginal spirit world in modern Australia. This is a haunting book about what is left of Aboriginal spiritual reality.
Perhaps the biggest breakthrough this week was establishing the ENGL102 “Think-Tank” to be renamed possible as “The Sophists”?!@#$- a group of 6 students who, with my help, will move towards creating English events and tools to enhance our experience at uni: debates, theatre visits, poetry competitions, more effective use of tools such as WebCT discussions and LiveJournal communities…. we will see how this grows this week.
In the Twentieth Century we looked again at poems by Hopkins and Hardy and completed introductory work on Modernism. This coming week we move into Joseph Conrad.

At home the puppies are beautiful but are causing mayhem in the kitchen… I don’t need to go into details!! They are now nearly 7 weeks old. I would love to keep them all! But can’t. My daughter Helen is fighting to keep 1… but even there we agonize about who will take the 2 dogs for a walk each day etc etc etc… no easy solution to this conundrum because we are all so busy in the household… They might all have to go to the petshop in a week or so….? Meantime my third grandchild is two weeks old.

from “Five Days Old”

Christmas is in the air
You are given into my hands
Out of quietest, loneliest lands.
My trembling is all my prayer.
To blown straw was given
All the fullness of Heaven.

The tiny, not the immense,
Will teach our groping eyes…
Now wonderingly engrossed
In your fearless delicacies,
I am launched upon sacred seas,
Humbly and utterly lost
In the mystery of creation,
Bells, bells of ocean.
                                <I>Francis Webb</I>

William Blake's Glad Day

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is one of Blake’s powerful images of freedom, new life and light. The birth of a new day! The painting captures in colour and rhythm Blake’s sense of how the imagination could generate a kind of awakening for humanity.
And so our Blake unit began last Friday amidst much interest and apprehension… who IS this mysterious guy William B? What can he add to my life, my way of thinking, my way of experiencing the world? All will gradually be revealed! So now I am going to copy this “Blog” into the “BlakeBlog Community” and let us see where that takes us…

William Blake's Glad Day

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is one of Blake’s powerful images of freedom, new life and light. The birth of a new day! The painting captures in colour and rhythm Blake’s sense of how the imagination could generate a kind of awakening for humanity.
And so our Blake unit began last Friday amidst much interest and apprehension… who IS this mysterious guy William B? What can he add to my life, my way of thinking, my way of experiencing the world? All will gradually be revealed! So now I am going to copy this “Blog” into the “BlakeBlog Community” and let us see where that takes us…

William Blake’s Glad Day

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is one of Blake’s powerful images of freedom, new life and light. The birth of a new day! The painting captures in colour and rhythm Blake’s sense of how the imagination could generate a kind of awakening for humanity.
And so our Blake unit began last Friday amidst much interest and apprehension… who IS this mysterious guy William B? What can he add to my life, my way of thinking, my way of experiencing the world? All will gradually be revealed! So now I am going to copy this “Blog” into the “BlakeBlog Community” and let us see where that takes us…