Saturday, 9 October 2010


This time next week, I will hopefully be enjoying some tapas in sunny (fingers crossed) Barcelona. I am off to a workshop, and, while I will mainly be "working," I was lucky enough to be booked on an early flight out and a late flight back, which means I'll have a half day before the workshop starts and several hours after the workshop ends (plus the evenings) in which to explore the city. I've never been to Barcelona, so while I would rather be at home with Crumpet and The Other Half, I'm also excited at the opportunity to go. To be honest, given the choice between a workshop in Leicestershire and one in Barcelona, who wouldn't pick Barcelona? Not that I have anything against Leicestershire; I'm sure it's a lovely county. But it ain't Barcelona.

Of course, the next few days will be full of the usual pre-travel rigmarole: making sure The Other Half and Crumpet have enough meals prepared ahead of time (or that he at least knows what to cook if there isn't a meal ready; luckily, he's pretty good at that), laying out Crumpet's clothes for the four days I'll be gone (he is not good at that), and frenzied packing at the last minute. My two previous trips (to Jersey in June and the Isle of Wight last month for another school trip) have at least helped ease my separation anxiety. I still get nervous about a week before the trip, and I miss her while I'm gone, but I know that Crumpet is in good hands here at home. As long as we keep her routine in place, she's fine. The separation ends up being worse for me than it is for her.

I am determined to make the most of my "off-time" while I'm in Barcelona. My two absolute must-sees are the Sagrada Familia and Las Ramblas, which I will probably try to do the first day (my hotel is conveniently located just a few metro stops away from the Sagrada Familia). Casa Mila and the other Gaudi houses, the Picasso Museum, and the Park G├╝ell are all on my "it would be nice if I have the time" list. Anyone have any other suggestions?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Hello, Muse, are you out there?

No, I am not summoning the rock band to appear before me. I am calling forth the ancient goddess of creativity. Because it just hit me that I have not written a poem in five years. That's right, FIVE years. Half a decade. It seems wrong even admitting that, but it's true. It's not as if I haven't written anything in those five years. I've written some travel essays and some web content and have dipped in and out of The Novel. I even started this blog (which I admit I haven't posted to that regularly these past few months). But the last time I wrote a poem was in the fall of 2005, when I was writing my M.A. thesis. And then I planned a wedding. And then I moved to another country (and switched careers). And not long after that I had a baby. Life happened and, when I should have had loads of inspiration for loads of new poems, my poetic mojo dried up.

I know it's not all up to the Muse. I've tried disciplining myself. With a Type A personality like mine, you'd think that wouldn't be too hard. But I've just ended up staring at a blank computer screen for an hour or, at best, writing a couple of lines that I end up deleting later. (And, at worst, I've been distracted by the washing-up or the order I need to place with Amazon, etc., etc.) When I was in college, the words just arranged themselves into poems in my head, and all I had to do was put my pen to my paper and they would pour out. Now, it's a struggle to extract an image or a metaphor painlessly. Maybe the problem is that I'm thinking too much.

So I am asking the Muse to return to me, to give me back the same passion and creativity I had when I was 19 (without all the post-adolescent angst). Because I want to dream in villanelles again.

Another Great Moment in Teaching...

...happened yesterday, when I was giving my students some biographical information on Toni Morrison before they begin reading Beloved.

"Didn't she win the Nobel Prize?" one of my students piped up.

"Yes, she did," I affirmed. "And the Pulitzer."

"The Nobel? Hey, isn't that what Soandso's dad won?" another student chimed in.

"Who?" I inquired.

"Oh, some kid who used to go to school here."

Sometimes, the world in which I teach is not necessarily the world in which I live.