Friday, March 30, 2012

Random. Stray. Thoughts.

1.  As most of you know I m a teacher in a small town.  Not only that, but the town in which I teach is too small for a Wal-Mart.  The closest Wal-Mart is 120 miles away.  The town where I teach is a border town.  The town where I teach is a casino town.

When my students proclaim they are going to go out and conquer the world, just as in any school, all of the teachers know approximately 85-90% of them are going to do no such thing.  All teachers know a few essential truths, and unfortunately one of those truths is most of our students are going to lead very ordinary lives, regardless of their claims.  So what's the big deal?  In my town, an ordinary life means working at one of the casinos once you are old enough to do one of the following: work in one of the restaurants/buffets, deal blackjack, be a cocktail waitress, or house-keeping.

Occasionally we have students who simply do not make it to graduation before the outside world beckons to them.  Nevada has one of the worst graduation rates in the nation, and living in a town of itinerant (relatively speaking) workers, does not make the community's efforts of establishing a sense of value in education any easier.  A class of approximately 90-100 students will come to my school in the 7th grade, and by the time they are seniors we will have about 50-55 left who are on track to graduate.  That's what we are looking at this year.  If we are lucky, we will have about 55 students graduate.

Of those 55, I'd say 15-20 are going to be going straight to college.  This number includes vocational and technical schools.  The rest?  Most of the rest will settle into their lives right here in town.  Most already have jobs, and quite a few of them have already been working full time.  It's a matter of economics.

So where is all this talk leading?  Well, I will tell you.  There is an unspoken contract between teachers and former students who have dropped out or have failed to make good on their promise to conquer the world in a small town such as mine.  The teachers forget all about the heartache and frustration those students caused us, and they forget about all of our nagging and tirades.  It's part of the contract.  When a former student checks me at the buffet or at the grocery store, I thank him or her with a genuine thank-you.  They are in the so-called 'real world' now, and they are providing me a service.  It's part of the contract.  When they come to me and ask for advice about getting back into school, I give them honest advice hoping they are actually going to listen this time, even though I know the chances are minuscule at best.  They mollify me by pretending to listen,putting on their best listening act.  It's all part and parcel of the contract.

Right about now, Spring Break, I am once again gearing up for the latest round of how things work in my town.

2.  I just bought three books of poetry from The King's English Bookstore earlier today.  All of the books I bought were by authors with a Utah connection.

a.  Jacqueline Osherow's Whitethorn

b.  Danielle Cadena Deulen's Lovely Asunder

c.  Kimberly Johnson's a metaphorical god

I will try to review all three eventually, but I wanted to introduce them anyways.  I have heard of Osherow and I have heard about a metaphorical god, but Lovely Asunder is a new one for me.

I also bought Helen Losse's book, Mansion of Memory, and I am certain it's going to be a good read.  I will let you know about that, too.

3.  I am not going to be participating in Kelly Russell Agodon's Big Poetry Give Away.  I am not feeling it this year, and I would rather not get in the middle of all of that. Last year I had books which went unclaimed and books returned to me because no such address existed.  Is it really that hard to follow through when you sign up to get a free book?  I will not be entering my name, either, because it wouldn't be right for me to do that when I am not going to be giving anything away.

I am feeling a little selfish right now, and that has something to do with it.  I am struggling to get back into the swing of writing my latest manuscript, and I need to spend time writing it rather than doing a lot of worrying about National Poetry Month.  That means I probably won't be trying to do NaPoWriMo, either.  I don't mean I won't be writing poems.  I just mean I won't be taking the daily challenge.

I am also trying to figure out how to better market my latest chapbook, Friday in the Republic of Me.  And yes, I understand the irony of saying this mere seconds after I stated I will not be giving away a copy of the book this coming month.  Again, I am in a weird mood, and I am a little more than on edge about the poetry community right now.  Having said that, I will let your imaginations go to work, because I am not elaborating any further.


Today officially kicks off our Spring Break.  I don't know what that means for my blog.  I might get really hyper and post at every available moment, but I doubt it---that's what I have Facebook for these days.  However, I may still post a few times just to see what happens.

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