Saturday (I’m done!) Musings

I am done with grading. I went in this morning to finish a couple of things and now I can get ready to head east for the holidays. Our Christmas/New Years is going to be a hectic one, but I’m looking forward to it. We’re heading to Erie the 22nd through the 26th. The 26th we’re heading to Pittsburgh and we’re leaving their the 31st to come back to Indy. The 1st we’re heading down to Murray for my defense, which is on the 2nd. Phew. Luckily, I don’t have to be back at school till Jan 6th.

A Yale University professor whose poetry is published by St. Paul’s Graywolf Press has been chosen to write and read an original poem at the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama. Elizabeth Alexander has published four collections of poetry, and her book “American Sublime” was a 2005 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2004, Alexander was a poetry mentor with the Loft.


I am lazy, the laziest
girl in the world. I sleep during
the day when I want to, 'til
my face is creased and swollen,
'til my lips are dry and hot. I
eat as I please: cookies and milk
after lunch, butter and sour cream
on my baked potato, foods that
slothful people eat, that turn
yellow and opaque beneath the skin.
Sometimes come dinnertime Sunday
I am still in my nightgown, the one
with the lace trim listing because
I have not mended it. Many days
I do not exercise, only
consider it, then rub my curdy
belly and lie down. Even
my poems are lazy. I use
syllabics instead of iambs,
prefer slant to the gong of full rhyme,
write briefly while others go
for pages. And yesterday,
for example, I did not work at all!
I got in my car and I drove
to factory outlet stores, purchased
stockings and panties and socks
with my father's money.

To think, in childhood I missed only
one day of school per year. I went
to ballet class four days a week
at four-forty-five and on
Saturdays, beginning always
with plie, ending with curtsy.
To think, I knew only industry,
the industry of my race
and of immigrants, the radio
tuned always to the station
that said, Line up your summer
job months in advance. Work hard
and do not shame your family,
who worked hard to give you what you have.
There is no sin but sloth. Burn
to a wick and keep moving.

I avoided sleep for years,
up at night replaying
evening news stories about
nearby jailbreaks, fat people
who ate fried chicken and woke up
dead. In sleep I am looking
for poems in the shape of open
V's of birds flying in formation,
or open arms saying, I forgive you, all.

Elizabeth Alexander


Wedesday (I’m very proud) Musings

Yes. We most certainly can. More to come later today…


I worked for the election board last night collecting ballots. It was actually less stressful than the primary. I was impressed with how most of the inspectors were well organized and we were able to process their paperwork relatively easily. We were finished by about 10:00 and then went home to watch election coverage.

I am pleased that Obama took my old stomping ground (New England) but I’m even more pleased that he took Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. When I was watching his speech last night in Grant Park I was very moved, and I haven’t felt that way about an election ever. I think that this signals an important change in this country and while I’m trying to be realistic as well as optimistic (politicians have made grand promises to us before) I think that this is exactly what our country needed.

I’m also very pleased about the youth vote.

Now it’s time to get to work.

Tuesday (It’s Election Day!) Musings

I chose to vote about three weeks ago. This is mostly because my teaching schedule would not allow me to vote until late afternoon, and I didn’t want to forget or let time slip away from me on Nov. 4th. RJ and I went down to the courthouse and it was a breeze. I think today we’re going to see historic numbers in terms of voter turn out, and I think that’s exciting. I think the youth vote is going to turn out strong, which I’m very excited about because they’ve been the heavily courted demographic for the last few years. Regardless of who you choose, it is important to get out and vote today. I think no matter if you’re a McCain supporter or an Obama supporter, we all agree, it’s time for something different.

My dad sent me this link this morning. I think this basically says it all.

I’m doing the ballot thing again this evening. I think it’s going to be a long evening, but it’s cool to be a part of the election process.

Next week I’m going to begin my “winter poem series.” This week is going to be hectic at best, so Monday we’ll kick it off officially.

My Halloween costume:

It was fun dressing up like a cupcake. I like making creative costumes and I have to say, pink tights with no feet? Awesome.

The Academy of American Poets sent this email out last week:

Dear Friends,
What does poetry have to do with the serious financial havoc the world has been enduring? Does anyone have time to consider a confection of art — spun from the imagination — while we face the chilling reality of lost homes, tattered businesses, or a compromised future? “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.”
We seem to be able to do so little against the loss and fear and panic. Yet poetry’s realm is precisely here — in the emotional center, where desire and terror and hope and dread converge without easy answers.
The complex world of finance is one that humans invented, and it is a world that is incomprehensible to many people — yet it too was first made in the imagination. The response to the current distress will also be forged in our collective imagination. Those of us who believe in the economy of words look to poetry to give shape to inchoate anxieties.
The staff at the Academy of American Poets has assembled a selection of poems on that we each have turned to during the recent confusion, and we hope they will open the possibility of a different kind of reflection in the fog of uncertainty. Poetry can provide solace, give voice to despair, restore optimism, or simply remind us of our common connection through words. As William Faulkner said in his Nobel speech, “The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

Tree Swenson
Executive Director, Academy of American Poets