December 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
After finishing my first semester of grad school, I’m celebrating a few good things:
1.) I’m teaching writing & rhetoric to college freshmen next semester! In preparation I created and submitted a literacy narrative – a story about a moment when composing or reading a text became significant to me – to the Digital Archives of Literacy Narratives. This is a great site with interesting, multimodal compositions, and it’s something I may have my students participate in. My earlier blog post “Twas Brillig and Shook Me to the Core” was a draft. You can listen to the final version here.
2.) I have three poems forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review. I’m so honored as this issue features some of my favorite poets: Rae Armantrout, David Trinidad, Heather Christle, and Kirsten Kaschock.
I’m not sure I could have made it through, though, without plenty viewing of the following:
1.) We posted this in one of our first blog posts, but it still cracks me up and inspires.
2.) I love this music and this video. It makes me so happy. It will get you through your day.
August 19, 2011 § 3 Comments
The author Thomas Mann once wrote, “A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Yeah, I hear you, Thomas. If words were dishes, the wall would receive a lot of them. And on such days, I need to step back and remind myself why I like working with words in the first place–how they change, where they come from, how we play with them, and why we relate to them. So today, in celebration of words, consider these activities:
1. Do use culturally appropriate words to show your gratitude and hospitality. When linguist Deborah Fallows lived in China, she learned that among friends, the Chinese strip away words which Americans find polite. For the Chinese, using words like ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ actually create formality, a distance that is easily offensive among those you consider good friends.
Listen to her NPR interview on speaking and dreaming in Chinese here (about 8 min).
2. Do create your own alphabet. For the 100th anniversary of Mitchell Library in New South Wales, Australia, librarians created an entire alphabet compiled of images of books, maps, photographs, paintings and other objects in the library’s collection. Letter A is created from a 15th century ivory book cover, a painting of a church, and a drum from the Tonga.
3. Do consider your word choice. In the short film below, the message and the medium are the same, but the words make all the difference.
4. Do read good words–at any time and any place. Steve McCurry (best known for“Afghan Girl”) photographed readers of all ages and ethnicities and of both rich and poor who were enjoying a good book. He writes, “People read while they do just about everything else.”
5. Do sneak words into unexpected places. The Argentine artist and “poetry bomber” Agustina Woodgate sews short poems into thrift store clothes in Miami, Florida, “so that poems can be in every day life.”
6. Do share your favorite words in the comments below. Recently, I’ve been intrigued by OK after reading of its mangled history (and its “entire philosophy in two letters” – Allan Metcalf).
June 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
I took a bit of Spanish once upon a time and many years ago, most of which I’ve since forgotten. Still, it doesn’t stop me from enjoying some of the great music being sung in this language. Here are a few musicians I’ve come to enjoy even if I’m not always entirely sure what they’re saying and Google Translate fails to help me.
1. Carla Morrison is one of my favorite artists, though half her songs, I’ve yet to find the translation. I just love her sound. A Mexican American singer/ songwriter from California, she played in a few rock cover bands before a friend offered to record an EP of some of her solo songs. This year, her show sold out at Vive Latino Festival in Mexico City, and she’s working on a full-length album.
On top of that, her main website has a hip bird on it. So cool. Listen to “Esta Soledad” (This Loneliness) below and check out her takeaway show of “Pajarito del amor” (Love Bird) with La Blogotheque.
2. The New Raemon hails from Barcelona, Spain. Fronted by Ramon Rodriguez, who seems to have dabbled in a dance troupe, comic book writing, and many back up bands, the group started The New Raemon as a side project four years ago. Their success (and apparent restlessness) has led them to keep creating.
Though their latest album is a bit more rocky heavy, I’ve really enjoyed their third album, La dimension desconocida. My favorite song is “el fin del imperio” (the lyrics begin, “The days of the empire have ended, and the invention of money fail as well…”). “Estupendamente” is excellent as well.
3. Mexico City’s Gina Recamier, going by Madame Recamier (after the French socialite Juliette Recamier) played her first American show at SXSW last year. Since then, her covers and translations of American songs (i.e. Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface”) have garnered her more popularity and she’s working on her second album and more U.S. shows. In her interview before SXSW, she shares about the Mexican music scene.
Listen to “Mira Mira” or “Pam Pam Pam” (below).
4. And a bonus! Mexican American artist Julieta Venegas isn’t up-and-coming (she’s won 5 Latin Grammys), but her music is so fun, I felt she should be added to the list.
May 2, 2011 § 2 Comments
It could be the combination of the romantic language, cheese and bread, and wine that creates a sophisticated charm that intrigues me to the French culture. Years ago, reading a French magazine from a friend, I learned the only French phrase I know, “Je me sens sexy quand je passe inaperçue.” Do you know what it means? If so, share in the comments.
Below are some of my French favorites:
1.Le Petit Prince is written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a French aviator and writer. Although this is a children’s books it has deep philosophical points that are embedded in the asteroid and Earth adventures of the Prince.
2. Someday, I want to wake up here – Annecy, France.
3. Luke Shephard put together over 2,000 images to create this fascinating video of Paris entitled Le Flâneur. Enjoy the two-minute visual tour of Paris.
April 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The other day when I dropped a stack of yellow, cut-out circles (for the purpose of a flower-making craft) on the floor and said, “Oops-a-daisy,” my student replied, “Miss V, what does that mean?” I looked at him and said, “It means oops, like when you drop a crayon or your snack and you say oops. You can also say oops-a-daisy.” The little kindergarten boy then paired a sweet, upbeat melody with the words “oops-a-daisy” into a song.
As I pondered my response to him, I’m not so confident that I gave him the right definition of oops-a-daisy. Thus, my curiosity led me on a quest to discover the origin of this phrase. Two meanings come from this phrase. First, starting in 1862 the phrase “upsy-daisy” was usually used by children as an exclamation when assisted in a spring-leap from the ground, meaning “going up.” The “daisy” part comes from the word lackaday with the suffix -sy attached. Second in the 1920s, “oops-a-daisy” or “whoops-a-daisy” came to mean in dismay or to drop something, meaning “going down.”
For me, I tend to use the phrase “oops-a-daisy” when I make a mistake or something suddenly occurs. A few people have made their own interpretation of “oops-a-daisy” moments that is quite creative.
3. Artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera fills street potholes and cracks with braided yarn – turning disrupting road bumps into pieces of art.
A nod to all of these individuals choosing to turn oops-a-daisy moments into something incredibly creative and beautiful.