Essays and Links
The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride in On (an odd, philosophical, semi-romantic meandering)
Writing and Education
Showing Class (writing by current or former
I'll Just Have
Toys to Toys
Scribbles and Bits (neat lines or paragraphs by various students)
This part of the site is dedicated to writing done by my current and former students, writing done for class, on the side, or even long after the term ended. Writing may include essays, stories, poems, scraps, or writing that defies categories.
Ms. Write Meets Her Match in Jr. Ms.
There I was - There I was - There I was - IN my parents' living room. Home from college. Sprawled out like Aster's Duck. (Don't ask. It's a lifelongMom-ism.) Trying to explain the Essence Of Writing to my sweet baby sis.
Then I remembered. My S.B.S. was in the very throes of inescapable angst that most of us recall, with reluctance and a visible cringe, as simply sixteen. I would need to roll up my sleeves for this mission. Because, in the name of all that's virginal and Walt Whitman, how could I adequately voice that, in the realm of the written word, I was Anne Lamott's humor, Lydia Lunch's shocking vision and SARK's free spirit all smeared into one bulging package? Only that -- (details, details) -- no one yet knows my name? There it was: Panic. I was at a loss. How to get this tidbit across? Especially when she drew several thousand times more than she ever read?
And then it hit me. Twice. First in the lulling voice of my therapist: "Hey Hei, this is NOT about you." And second in the voiceless voice of my Spirit. Closest translation: Divine inspiration comes in two word packages. While attempting to stall and simultaneously shake off that sneak attack of blatant co-dependency, I communicated to my sister a few points central to my philosophy of great writing. I studiously stressed the importance of truth telling as a common and reliable jumping off place. That, when done well, it speaks to us all who are sitting in this precariously balanced boat called life.
I went on to brilliantly detail the essence of distraction as it finds us today. In the television. In every teenager's telephone. In the very vices of our culture. In short: in the mindless, brain-candy activity that is technology in modern America.
I even preached to the invaluable tool
that is solemn, heartfelt meditation, with the self-same inflated,
And she all but promptly fell asleep. God love her.
So I rewound, deflated the ego, and went
back to small words and a simple concept. Rusted Violets. This
was high school junior English after all, and she couldn't POSSIBLY
have had the likes of the tyrant whom - hello! - I had had that
year. So how hard could it be? I mean, really. So I dabbled in
the basics and let my beliefs give way to example. The truth
was this to me: when all else gives way to naught, one digs deep
inside and excavates the contradictions common to us
"Rusted violets," I told her. "It's as easy as that."
After a small row and a hair tousle, courtesy of the queer look she afforded me, I explained further. I told her that all she needed was a good diving off place. In its simplest form, a two word tidbit that harbored within it a contradiction while, at the same time, drawing an intriguing picture in her mind's eye.
That did it. Being that she is an accomplished young sketch artist (something I will NEVER be accused of, mind you), this hit the nerve I'd been seeking on the living room rug, grasping at for the last half hour.
The twinkle was back and I shared then this. "Speak of your image, where it blooms, why it rusts, how it survives and who it wants to become."
So she shyly gave way to the birth of her image, why it was and where it was pointed. And the rest, she said, was cake.
I sit back on my own rug these days, a handful of years later, and take note of my own advice when I find that I've hit that proverbial, wordless wall. I say to myself, as gently as I can muster, "Start small, Hei, then tell the truth. The beauty will draw itself."
Trust that, I've learned, and you can write anything. Provided, of course, you ever did survive junior English.
Heide Perry, Ohio University, was that 1994 or 93?
Converse, Critique, Question
Would you like to know when the site gets updated? Drop me an e-mail, and I'll add you to the list. Much of my writing has been for the antiques site lately, but I have a long list of essays in assorted stages of revision for this site. The people who e-mail often apologize because they assume I'm swamped with e-mails. I only wish it were true. I'm a teacher from the marrow out, so give me questions. I'm a writer, so I also need an audience. Sometimes that means applause, sometimes rotten tomatoes.
From time to time, a student decides to use some of my ideas, or perhaps they even quote me in a paper. Great, I'll take what fame and traces of immortality I can get. However, I should also warn such students that my ideas are not always the things that your teachers want to hear. I'm a stubborn idealist, and that puts me at odds with quite a bit of education theory and literary criticism. Sure, I think I'm right about some things, and I'm sometimes convinced of my own brilliance, but don't jump into the fire blindfolded.