Teaching Writing Theory
after Jaan Kaplinski
On Tuesday I discovered if my cancer
had returned. Later I discussed teaching writing
to six-year-olds. We spun our arms
like windmills, then made chopstick-motions
with our fingers mirroring the motor control
functions we daily take for granted
even less think about as we stare at the page.
We looked at motivational theory. Taxonomies
and heuristics jammed the white-board,
a cacophony of formulations we all wanted
to witness taking flight. During self-study,
I watched students tap-tapping at mobiles
and tablets, all the while sustaining complex
discussions about pedagogy and dress codes
for their forthcoming Christmas parties.
If they were nervous of the outcome
of their assignments, none of them showed it.
Poem Beginning With a Line by John Ash
What do I do? I look out the window
at the terrible dusk, which even now
appears, reflected in Victorian facades,
to seep into my bones like a chemical injection
or wave of depression on reading
an especially tedious journal of educational research.
The day had promised so much, Schuyler says;
it held so little, or was it I who in asking
too much received less than I deserved?
A brunch with brilliant friends, a cleansing
of the vegetable patch and ditto my groaning bookshelves,
most of which I will not miss: pleasures of flesh
and mind which are the author of each other.
How else does one daydream phrases
like ‘stupefying sunlight’ but mulching
rotted marrow flowers? How else tell the labour
of the same but in silence? Tonight I may walk
and capture the book-lined study where a woman
sits working. For a moment I will stare
right into her, aware that all she sees is mirror,
not me watching her with pity and a shrug
at the silence, the kind that is a hum,
somewhere in the valley a train and somewhere
crossing that a motorway, with is halogen and its orange.
Anthony Wilson is a poet and writing tutor, and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter. Love for Now, his memoir of cancer is available here and Riddance, his new book of poems is available here.