Saturday, April 30, 2016



a headset captures
responses of students
from ESL students all over the world
"a palette, paints
a teacher, a blackboard,
students, toe-may-toes,
i don't know."

Friday, April 29, 2016

High Stakes Testing

High Stakes Testing

     A report last year indicated that standardized tests are unpredictable and unreliable from state to state.  For example, a student making a high score in Arizona may not score as high in Connecticut or Massachusettes where student achievement is higher.  Why?  Because those states have more rigorous tests.

      I shudder at the amount of money that is spent in the United States on testing.  It's probably enough to solve the economic crisis of a third world country.  

     The test results can determine whether children are promoted from  one grade to the next, whether teachers get raises, whether teachers will even retain their jobs.

     It's different in Finland where standardized tests are not used, children have more time to play, and high school students start school later in the day.  Yet Finnish students lead the world in academic achievement.  I just read "The Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way."  We could learn a lot from the methods of the Finns.

     According to "The Smartest Kids in the World," education is a central consideration in the lives of children in the superpowers.  In the past, they had experienced failure, and they knew what crisis felt like.  In the U.S., many feel that we have skewed our priorities.  (118, 119

     In the U. S., sports are a central concern, actually, they overtake academics in priority.  In the educational elite countries (Korea, Finland, Poland), students spend about half the time with athletics compared to the U. S.  Sports really have nothing to do with education, and the emphasis there waters down the academic achievement of our students.  In other countries, sports are often managed by outside clubs or community.  It is rare to find a teacher who is also a coach

Sunday, April 24, 2016


KCAW, Raven Radio

     Years ago, I was a volunteer at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska.  This is a community radio, co-founded by a visionary by the name of Marika Partridge who went on to work for NPR in Washington, DC where she "invented" the musical connections between NPR stories.

     The station is supported by donations and Sitkans host the shows, ranging from bluegrass to jazz to classical...fond memories of Chris Christianson's "Classics With Chris" and my own bluegrass hosting which introduced me to the Dillards.

     KCAW is still going strong and I can still listen to it by streaming.  Cool!;streamnsv

Monday, April 18, 2016

Siegfried Sassoon

A  Across the land a faint blue veil of mist
B  Seems hung; the woods wear yet arrayment         sober
ATill frost shall make them flame; silent and whist
BThe drooping cherry orchards of October
C Like mournful pennons hang their shriveling leaves
D Russet and orange: all things now decay;
C  Long since ye garnered in your autumn sheaves,
D  And sad the robins pipe at set of day.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Midnight Special

    The new film by Jeff Nichols is his best one to date.  I caught it at the Silverspot today in Chapel Hill, having viewed it the first time at the Regal in Cary.  Both theaters have enormous screens that are so effective in a science fiction thriller.  With that said, I'll try not to say one word about the plot or the ending.

     Midnight Special draws the viewer in even before the first scene appears.  We hear an Amber Alert on the radio and that sets the stage for the next 90 minutes of intensity.

     Roy, played by Michael Shannon in his fourth Nichols film, is on a mission.  But is he an abductor or a rescuer?  It's not clear at first, and the intricate plot keeps viewers guessing, just as Nichols would like.   Roy looks throughout the film like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders.  As one of the most expressive actors in films today, he can capture a feeling with just a sideways turn of the head or a furrowed brow.  He is magnificent in this film.

     Joel Egerton (who will also star in the next Nichols film due out next year), is perfect as Roy's accomplice, Lucas.  The interplay between the two characters never abates during the film and much of their dialog consists of dramatic one-liners:  "it's national," "he's dying," "he's more important."  Such simple words, laden with meaning and foreboding.

     A dark night, a lonely road, a gas station, a phone booth.  Darkness lays over the movie like another character.  It's errie, haunting, and effective.  One of my favorite night scenes shows a hill, over which the lights of a bus appear.  Breathtaking and mysterious.

    With Adam Stone's sensitive cinematography, simple things become powerful:  an empty swing set, the soft glow of a lamp, an early morning sky.  One of the most beautiful scenes in the film shows a child playing in the living room.  It's as though the camera is eavesdropping while the shot is captured through the framework of the child's parents holding hands.

     Kirstin Dunst plays Roy's wife and is believeable sympathetic in the role of a mother.  Her anguish at the film's end brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience and her performance has all the depth of a much older actress.

     Adam Driver is appealing in his role as an FBI agent who easily inserts himself into the action and takes command in several scenes.

     Sam Shepherd with his steady gaze and razor sharp eyes,  is appropriately cast as the leader of a cult who can speak volumes with just a sideways glance.  

     The music by David Wingo is another strong character in the film.  Whether foreshadowing or celebrating, the music is stunning, right up to the end song, Midnight Special, which is sung by Ben Nichols, Jeff's brother.  I loved the gritty, lonesome quality of it.

Sir Pompey Duck Legs

Have you seen Pompey Duck Legs Lately?

He would be pretty hard to pass by

when he takes walks around East Campus

with Dean Mordacai.

Well mannered dog with a smart bowtie,

a vest, a party hat and spats,

make him quite the appealing little  guy.

Have you seen Pompey Duck Legs Lately?

My Two Loves

Music and poetry

especially the music of Duke Ellington and the poetry of

Langston Hughes

Conciliatory Poem

It's hard to be a first grade teacher

when I notice this little girl falling asleep

at breakfast then later,

during reading class

she seemed so sad and aloof

and scared

that I gave her a prized possession

from my pocket

a prism edged with tiny stars

Different Kinds of Poetry/Billy Collins

Billy Collins pointed out the other night that there are

  • participatory poems, though I can't find an example of one.

  • self conciliatory poems  (example)
How much better to be in suburbia absorbing hand gestures and road signs than to be roaring down a dirt road kicking up dust everywhere.

How much better to be crossing a covered bridge in Pennsylvania or watching the fading sunsets of a Carolina beach.

Billy Collins came to Duke last week and had the audience in hysterics.  All his talking about dogs finally made me appreciate my cat.

Greek Grandmas

Greek Grandmas

greet young mothers and their babies

stepping off the ship

onto a foreign beach


their own days when they were refugees

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Finished With War

World War I Definitions

where to swerve is to show cowardice

to be swift is to move quickly

to sleep is to slumber

the legion is the Army as a whole

to be ardent is to be nobly enthusiastic

where fate means death

Election Day

Election Day

warm day for march

church site for a polling place

line of people an hour long

standing on a foot that aches

from a tumble off a curb with a heavy briefcase

that was stuffed with things for the after-school group:

a CD player so they could hear Porky Cohen 

or maybe Ellington playing in a ragtime mood.

Waiting in an hour long line while an official looking

like Obama hands me a flyer with

Brenda Howerton's picture on it

Brenda Howerton 

who are you and do you deserve my vote

Mukuk's poems and memories of the

Johnny Mercer pier

keep me company

My Left Foot

My Left Foot

my left foot is an injured foot

it needs a rest

and comfort in order to heal

it doesn't need high heels

or even shoes at all.

It is free to be

it doesn't like to be stepped on.

This foot has never been hurt before.

It has hiked a mountain in Norway,

climbed hills in Black Mountain.

This foot is magic!

I have known it to stand on pointe

and do an arabasque

this foot is best.

What Is Green?

What Is Green?

The healing color of hills
shimmering in the sun
a god-smack that makes me come undone
I want to go back to Black Mountain College
to the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies
back to molasses making at Mabry Mill
the sacred hill at Fincastle
that will take me away 
from what I saw in
the lunch line yesterday.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Ohad Naharin

/Ohad Naharin has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. As Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company since 1990, he has guided the company with an adventurous artistic vision and reinvigorated its repertory with his captivating choreography. Naharin is also the originator of an innovative movement language, Gaga, which has enriched his extraordinary movement invention, revolutionized the company’s training, and emerged as a growing force in the larger field of movement practices for both dancers and non-dancers.
Ohad Naharin
Born in 1952 on Kibbutz Mizra, Ohad Naharin began his dance training with the Batsheva Dance Company in 1974. During his first year with the company, visiting choreographer Martha Graham singled out Naharin for his talent and invited him to join her own company in New York. While in New York, Naharin studied on scholarship at the School of American Ballet, furthered his training at The Juilliard School, and polished his technique with master teachers Maggie Black and David Howard. He went on to perform internationally with Israel’s Bat-Dor Dance Company and Maurice Béjart’s Ballet du XXe Siècle in Brussels.
Naharin returned to New York in 1980, making his choreographic debut at the Kazuko Hirabayshi studio. That year, he formed the Ohad Naharin Dance Company with his wife, Mari Kajiwara, who died of cancer in 2001. From 1980 until 1990, Naharin’s company performed in New York and abroad to great critical acclaim. As his choreographic voice developed, he received commissions from world-renowned companies including Batsheva, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, and Nederlands Dans Theater.
Naharin was appointed Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company in 1990 and has served in this role except for the 2003-2004 season, when he held the title of House Choreographer. During his tenure with the company, Naharin has choreographed over 20 works for Batsheva and its junior division, Batsheva Ensemble. He has also restaged over 10 of his dances for the company and recombined excerpts from his repertory to create Deca Dance, a constantly evolving evening-length work.
Naharin trained in music throughout his youth, and he has often used his musical prowess to amplify his choreographic impact. He has collaborated with several notable musical artists to create scores for his dances, including Israeli rock group The Tractor’s Revenge (for Kyr, 1990), Avi Belleli and Dan Makov (for Anaphaza, 1993), and Ivri Lider (for Z/na, 1995). Under the pseudonym Maxim Waratt, Naharin composed music for MAX (2007) and edited and mixed the soundtracks for Mamootot(2003) and Hora (2009). Naharin also combined his talents for music and dance in Playback (2004), a solo evening which he directed and performed.
In addition to his work for the stage, Naharin has pioneered Gaga, an innovative movement language. Gaga, which emphasizes the exploration of sensation and availability for movement, is now the primary training method for Batsheva’s dancers. Gaga has also attracted a wide following among dancers around the world and appealed to the general public in Israel, where open classes are offered regularly in Tel Aviv and other locations.
Naharin’s compelling choreographic craft and inventive, supremely textured movement vocabulary have made him a favorite guest artist in dance companies around the world. His works have been performed by prominent companies including Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Frankfurt, Lyon Opera Ballet, Compañía Nacional de Danza (Spain), Cullberg Ballet (Sweden), the Finnish National Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, Balé da Cidade de São Paulo, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (New York), Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Les Grand Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. Naharin’s rehearsal process with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet during a restaging of Deca Dance was the subject of Tomer Heymann’s documentary Out of Focus (2007).
Naharin’s rich contributions to the field of dance have garnered him many awards and honors. In Israel, he has received a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Weizmann Institute of Science (2004), the prestigious Israel Prize for dance (2005), a Jewish Culture Achievement Award by The Foundation for Jewish Culture (2008), a Doctor of Philosophy honoris causa by the Hebrew University (2008), and the EMET Prize in the category of Arts and Culture (2009). Naharin has also been the recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government (1998), two New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards (for Naharin’s Virus at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2002 and for Anaphaza at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2003), the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009), and a Dance Magazine Award (2009).  In 2013, he received an honorary doctorate from Juilliard.

Gibney Dance Company

Offering GaGa for non dancers.

Gaga/people classes are open to people ages 16+, regardless of their background in dance or movement. No previous dance experience is needed.
Gaga is a new way of gaining knowledge and self-awareness through your body. Gaga provides a framework for discovering and strengthening your body and adding flexibility, stamina, and agility while lightening the senses and imagination. Gaga raises awareness of physical weaknesses, awakens numb areas, exposes physical fixations, and offers ways for their elimination. The work improves instinctive movement and connects conscious and unconscious movement, and it allows for an experience of freedom and pleasure in a simple way, in a pleasant space, in comfortable clothes, accompanied by music, each person with himself and others. “We become more aware of our form. We connect to the sense of the endlessness of possibilities. We explore multi-dimensional movement; we enjoy the burning sensation in our muscles, we are ready to snap, we are aware of our explosive power and sometimes we use it. We change our movement habits by finding new ones. We go beyond our familiar limits. We can be calm and alert at once.” – Ohad Naharin

World War One Poets

World War One Poets

The 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme is coming up
Brings to mind the Royal Welsch Fusiliers
When the stench of horseflesh was in the battlefield
Seigfried Sasson threw hand granades
Jack Kipling, Rudyard's son, was killed

On Passing Through St. Martin's Gate

On Passing Through St. Martin's Gate

All buried together, these thousand men
Never to see their comarades again
Death became the great leveler
There was never a shot fired in anger
Here lies a lad who gave his all
Came East from the village of Thackerstall
Entered the war with his best mate
Together they entered through St. Martin's Gate

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What I Love to Do (Affirmative Exercise Two)

Write and illustrate poetry

Spend time in Lilly Library

Linking the Good and Bad

 I can think of this positive experience at Nelson Reading Room.

So I have this thing about Rubenstein Library and how wonderful the archives are there.  The image of Pompey Duck Legs is pleasant.  I first heard about it a couple of years ago at Perkins' "Puppy Time" at the library where they bring in puppies to hang with the students during final exam week.  That is so appealing.  It should be written up in College Research Libraries.  What a terribly clever way to reach the public in such a charming way.  It's a great story!

So I gave Billy Collins my prized pin with the image of Pompey Duck Legs on it.  I wish I could get another pin but they gave them all away.  I could do a children's story about the dog, the walks he took with Mordecai, where the dog lived, how he would come to class.  How he would be dressed up on his birthday with a hat and given cake and ice creme.

I need to write about giving the pin to Billy Collins also.  Glad I thought about that!  I have so many great memories of East and West campus...must give Collins a copy of the story.

Tonight's lesson:  changing the language and changing the world.  Do it, do it, do it!

John Evans' Class April 14, 2016

What to say when you're critiquing --

"I want to know more about...."

"Tell me more about that character."

"Unconditionally love yourself."

So how do I love myself?  I was careless, in a hurry, and hurt my foot.  I was carrying a heavy briefcase, stepped off the curb.  I'm supposed to work at that school next month and I don't think I can.  Too hard.   I can be kind to myself.  I don't have to go back...

Mindfulness, non=judgment, loving kindness

5 min exercise  to remember a positive experience, pleasant physical environment, etc....

my five minute writing concerns the reading last night by Billy Collins.  The reading was held in the Nelson Reading Room on East Campus.  I found my usual parking place and headed dow to the building.  It's quite a way from Baldwin Auditorium.  The room was packed and I saw one of my teachers, Florence Nash.  Billy Collins appeared right on time and sat down next to Florence.  His casual mood and drop dead sense of humor were so appealing.  I love his self effacing attitude.  He read "To My Favorite 17 Year Old High School Girl."   I love the way the poem started out with "Did you know -- that at your age Joan of Arc led the the French in battle, or that Judy Garland had already made her first 150,000 dollars?"  So it goes on to say "but we love you just the way you are, silently staring into space."  And he shared that he read this like a dialogue with John Cobert.   So tonight I'll go home and read some more of his poems and maybe look him up on YouTube/   And write a poem about the dog immortalized in the Duke Archives.

That dog's name was Pompey Ducklegs (now how did he acquire a name like that?)  The dog would accompay the Dean of the Law School, Dean Mordacai, on walks around East Campus.  I think the dog even went to class with Dean Mordaicai.  And the dog is in the formal photograph taken at the law school in the 19th century.

I could write a book about this dog.  Now wouldn't that be something!!!  The dog's image was put on pins and distributed during "Puppy Day" at Perkins Library.

Now this has been so fun to write about.  Amy at Rubenstein Library gave me this information, a long story that was published in Duke Today.   Now see for yourself,  Dean Mordecai and Pompey Duck Legs.

John Evans' Class "What To Say When You're Critiquing"

What did your character say?    Think?

Talk about what you like.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cat Tales

Cat Tales

Whenever I begin to write
my cat leaps of grandfather's chest
onto the table
and lies across my keyboard
wanting attention.

Billy Collins

Billy Collins gave a poetry reading at the Nelson Music Room on East Campus.  I've been entralled with Collins since 2001, when I was at the Library of Congress and his poem, "School Days" was handed out to all of us teachers and librarians in attendence.  Collins was Poet Laureat then.

The man is like a stand-up comediene, only professorial and wry.  Among his many accomplishments, he recently interviewed Paul McCartney and was on the Cobert Report reading "To My Favorite 17 Year Old Girl."  That poem is brilliant, about his teen-age step-daughter to be.  It's funny and satirical.


Collins has some unique ideas about are some topics he inspired me to explore ---

Participatry Poems

Funny poems about my cat

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Sue Was the One

Sue Was the One

Who wiped the tears
Massaged her back and of all her fears
Took her to practice at middle school
Joined her after for a game of pool
Stayed up late and paid for the lessons
She was never one to ignore her blessings
Worked two jobs while Ravi played
everywhere from England and to Bombay
Sue was the one who believed in her
Who never gave up when it was all a blur
And finally when the first album came
She was the one who took the blame

for divorcing the man who fathered their child
who grew up to become a spirit so wild
that wild horses couldn't even restrain her
as she lassoed the world and who could blame her
for overlooking the father who was barely there
during the stress and the problems of her first affair

she hardly saw him after that
or called to have a little chat
some things are better left unsaid
it's not that she's angry, she's only sad
sad for the days of celebration
at her birthday and later, graduations
she changed her name to match her mother's
at her father's name she merely shudders

Ballad for Jesse and Nora

Ballad for Jesse and Nora

Hitchhiking on a lonely Texas road
Past beer joints and a honky tonk or two
Lonely as hell and itching for action
Never having much satisfaction

Guitar in hand and sheet music in tow
then a pickup stops and offers a ride
With dust kicking up like they were on the lam
They arrive at the college for late night jam

With Jesse on bass and Nora on piano
Frank on sax and Al on cello
Those four jazzed on into the night
A spontaneous grouping sounding just right.

Deep in the hollow of his heart
He longed for a collaborator
Some kind of fire to burn him in flames
He just wanted to start all over again

He found his songstress and headed North
Performing in coffee shops around Lincoln Center
And while she bargained in tune with his musical dreams
Their friendship forged their musical schemes

And that was the start of an illustrious career
Five Grammys in just a year
Contract with Blue Note and a world-wide tour
Jesse and Nora took the world by storm


Google Doodle featured Ravi Shankar today which led me to his daughter, Nora Jones, and the story of her rise to fame, and this quick poem.  ds

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Durham Symphony Orchestra

     How lucky we are to have William Henry Curry as conductor for the Durham Symphony Orchestra.  They gave a thrilling performance!   Should have been a packed house.


Decided not to try the poetry competition...i need more time, so I will wait until later in the year when the manuscript is closer to finishing.

Quiet day --

time for gratitude

1.  the wonderful concert last night
2.  church today and lots of little ones
3.  got another job app in
4.  seeing the doc tomorrow about my foot
5.  cookin' up rice now