To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities
 as you do at conclusions.
~Benjamin Franklin


     Maybe we are born more to ignore than to listen. I understand too well how easy it is to ignore the blatherings of teachers. I was a master of it once myself, so why should I expect it to be any different for you? Very few of your lives will be diminished, nor will any irreparable harm befall those of you who choose to ignore my blathering rather than to listen. It’s your choice.     You 8th graders are writing your epic poems that (hopefully) are trying to recreate the heroic cycle in new and original ways, and by and large it seems to be working: words are being wrought out of the ether of stale air and transformed into images and actions, thoughts and plots, and heroes and anti-heroes–and few of you seem to be struggling with the 250 line minimum. At this midpoint in the assignment, all I can ask is to keep at it. If you reach the 250 line minimum, and I can “see” that you are putting in a strong and consistent effort, but still have more to go, I will gladly give you an extension until after the break.

But you 9th graders. You are up against a hard deadline. Friday morning is the Poetry Slam where you have to be ready to go–ready or not! By now you should have a good “body” of poems to choose from that will showcase you team and position your team as the best in the ninth grade. All of you will have two rounds of four poems each that will be judged by a picky group of judges–your teachers! If they like what they hear, you will make it into the final rounds, and at that point one of my class teams better win. I’d hate to have to listen to Mr. Farley for an entire year gloating how he beat the “poet’s class.”So for all of you–8th and 9th alike–work like mad. Transform opportunity into production. Make things better. Read everything I have posted about how to tell an epic story. Go back to your poems and get rid of the dull, mundane, oversold cliches and make your poems ring like hard steel on a cold day. Pay attention to form and structure, rhythm and flow, revising, proofreading, editing–do everything and anything that shows you give a damn.

These are not just words and games. They are all of you making stuff that will last longer than any of your lives. It’s eternity time.

And those opportunities don’t happen every day.

But blathering does.


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