Monday, April 27, 2009

Creative Writing

After workshopping six pieces in class today I was left with an extra hour to fill. Earlier this morning I'd read a friend's twitter update which linked to an article he'd written for Granta titled "A Vacation from Myself" about his foray into Wellbutrin. Thinking the article well written and potentially interesting for my "Literature and Madness" class, I printed a copy. At the break, after some quick thinking, I xeroxed enough copies for my creative writing students and we read and discussed it in the remaining time. This left another 35 minutes to fill. I hadn't prepared an in-class writing assignment so I was going to dismiss class - that is until the title of my friend's piece sparked an idea.

"Okay, now I want you to write a nonfiction piece titled 'A Vacation from Myself'." Ah, I'd just bought myself another 20 minutes. Pen-poised and ready to write, the students went to work, most writing with enthusiasm. I checked my cell phone, looked over the grade book, flipped through some errant papers in my bag. Finally, I picked up my own pen and wrote the following piece:

"A vacation from myself would involve hitting the snooze button of my brain. Thoughts would slowly dissipate and a flood of new feelings would emerge - emotions, perhaps, that I might not have experienced while inhabiting myself.  I wouldn't want to prepare for this vacation. I would want to jump right in - submerge into the unknown like canonballing from a high dive into a freezing pool. I would probably seize at first, unclear how to manage the flood of emotions, but I would acclimate. I always do. This vacation would be free, of course, but at what expense? Could my brain go to mush from lack of use? Or would it use the time to replenish and reboot - grateful to just be a brain in a skull, resting comfortably. Meanwhile, I'd flap around like some sort of puppet released from its strings - foolish, perhaps, but I wouldn't think to care."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

eh plus

You know those concerts where everyone's in synch, the artist, the musicians, the audience, and the sound is so pristine you could actually be at home, CD on the player, eyes closed? Have you ever been to a concert where the back-up singers were so good that you came home and ordered their solo work from iTunes? Has narrative songwriting ever been so intelligent, thoughtful, funny and profound? Have you ever been to a concert where an older man two rows behind you was singing every lyric of every song and random women were shrieking declarations of love from all areas of the auditorium - orchestra, lodge, mezzanine? Have you ever been to a concert where a grey-haired, big-nosed, 75-year old man oozed more charm and sex appeal than Brad Pitt? Where you could hear a pin drop during an impromptu poetry recital? Where standing ovations occurred after each song? 

THAT was the Leonard Cohen concert and I am so grateful that I was there!