Thursday, February 14, 2008


Re-reading The Sound and the Fury and finding the experience haunting. This is the third time. The book seems to rise up at crossroads. As I wind through Faulkner's streams of thought, I encounter the ghosts of old selves, shed like snake skin behind me. I touch the delicate papery self of high school, which nearly disintegrates; rub my thumb across the bookmark of a later, thicker skin.  And the characters too rise up in new shapes. Benjy isn't as compelling. Quentin and Jason too present. I've not yet reached Caddy. The book's power seems diminished. Perhaps that's because the Compsons aren't as exotic as in my younger imagination. I know families like this and sadder now.  So familiar, not diminished. Now, reading this is like looking through a photo album you pull out from time to time.  As opposed to a guidebook to that far off place you'd yet to visit.

Today, to follow my own streaming thoughts, I worked with the fourth graders on poems they're writing, based on a stunning exhibition at the museum where I teach as a visiting writer. We were looking at ways to use verbs and nouns. Later their teacher told me the school's writing curriculum doesn't include lessons on identifying parts of speech. So the kids don't know the names of the words they are using. This makes me sad. How can they use language if they don't know how to name it? 

No comments: