Think but this. . .

Its been a busy week, and in a busy week, journaling takes a back seat. It shouldn’t–that’s the point of this assignment–but it still does.  If any of us can get to the point where our journaling is a top priority, we have crossed a high and difficult threshold.

I did manage to squeeze in an entry while off line, waiting with my friend Ardo at the emergency dental clinic in Moorhead. Her first visit to a dentist, perhaps, and she had to get a tooth pulled.  She won’t be going back for a while. I’ll try to get that post, about Malcolm X and Sherman Alexie, up here soon.

In re-reading Dayna Del Val’s “Think but this. . . ” essay from this class, ten years ago, I was struck by how unusual it is to find a literacy narrative shaped by an extended metaphor, in this case, a love affair.  The literacy narratives we have read have been playful, like Alexie’s, or powerful, like Malcolm X’s, but both were grounded in and full of very specific detailed acts of reading and writing.  Dayna didn’t just read Shakespeare, she wrapped her mouth around his words; she says nothing about sitting down with a script or a Riverside Shakespeare; she brings him alive, and she just gives us an image of the two of them dancing. Dayna does give us some grounded details, about going to the Shakespeare conservatory in the Catskills, about coming through Grand Central Station in August, but this essay feels like it occupies a dream space, a fairy land, A Midsummer Nights’ Dream.  She tells us her literacy narrative by entering in to a key text in her life, rather than standing back from it and reflecting on it–by far the more common approach. I’m likely to write in the mode of realism, but will stay open to the value of dream sequences.

Dayna’s approach would not be easy to replicate. Her essays strikes me as a model of inspiration, rather than a model for replication.  I did find myself once, wanting to strike out “for breakfast,” but other than that, she brought me back in to the dreamworld of her piece and did not let me inhabit my role as teachers.


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