Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poet Laureates

John Dryden, First Poet Laureate.

Concluding poetry month with a discussion about Poet Laureates (PL) would be an appropriate summation. The concept of a PL came from the notion that the monarch of England wished to have a poet write poems and verse to commemorate events of note. The tradition of PL has extended into schools, where we have a poem read at commencement or other occasions of import. The tradition of a PL doesn't have to be limited to government, it can be extended into our schools, businesses, and even entertainment. We have songs and speeches that are used to celebrate beginnings of things or concluding things, so why not a poem?

A good source to start a study of the PL would be at HighBeam Encyclopedia. Whether Ben Johnson or John Dryden was the first PL is not clear. The PL held the position for life in England. The American term for the PL is one year. The function is the same, nonetheless, to write verse to celebrate the accomplishments of the leader. Joseph Auslander was the first Poet Laureate of the United States.

Joseph Auslander, First Poet Laureate of the United States.

The Poet Laureate is an exalted position. What other countries have Poet Laureates? Who are the Poet Laureates of England and The United States? How could we extend the Poet Laureate idea into other walks of life?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Poetry Slams

When I first heard this term, I didn't know what to make of it. It seemed like such an oxymoron. As I came to learn they were just the next generation of Homer; Irish storytellers who used the Harp; Shakespeare's sonnets; the Romantic Poets of Keats, Byron, and Shelley; and the Beat poets of the 50's. Poetry slams were all of these and more. There is a great deal of controversy about the origins of the poetry slam. Let it suffice, it exists and is a product of the past, revitalized by a new generation, Poetry, new and improved. World Poetry Slams are growing to the point there exists a World Individual Poetry Slam competition.

My early encounter with the Slam was from Tim Mooney, an English teacher in Chicago. He has been involved with them for many years and keeps getting groups to contests. This is what he says about Poetry Slams:

The poetry slam format varies from place to place. The common features are:
1) A good number of student poets- some suggest 10 or more, but less will do.
2) 5 judges to rate the poets on a scale from 1 to 10. The judges should be instructed to use tenths of points, so it is easier to break ties. Poets are judged for performance and poetry, usually half and half. The judges need
not be experienced readers of poetry.
3) The judges need cards to write scores on, or pieces of paper and markers to write with.
4) The order of who performs should be determined by random picks. You can do this by putting all the names into a hat, or other recepticle & picking them out.
5) There needs to be an MC to announce the poets.
6) The poets perform their poems - 3 minute time limit w/penalties for going over-1/2 a point for every ten seconds over 3 minutes. 10 second grace period after 3 minutes. Penalties kick in at 3:10.
7) Audience cheers after poet finishes and judges are scoring.
8) Judges scores are held up. If the audience does not agree with the scores, they should be encouraged to react. At the Nationals, they were encouraged to boo, but here in Chicago, we shout, "Listen to the poem," or,
"Listen to the poet." I like this method better as it shows the poets that we (the audience) are listening.
9) Low and high scores are dropped and the middle three are tallied.
10) The poet with the most points at the end wins!

All through this, especially at the beginning, the poets and the audience
need to be reminded that it's not about the points, it's about the poetry.

We did a Poetry Slam, last year in our Family group. We plan doing another one this year. There is an annual Poetry Slam at Madison Square Garden, attended by many of our students. The resemblance of HipHop to Shakespeare's sonnets has always intrigued me. Today's Slams are a reminder of the past and our oral tradition. Once again I am reminded of how life is a spiral, what was becomes again.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fooling with Words

In 1999, Bill Moyers hosted the program "Fooling with Words" on PBS that features a variety of poets. On this program he spoke with poets, had them read their poetry, provided lesson plans and teacher guides. The event of the Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival in Waterloo Village, NJ. I know this village well. It is near the Delaware River and I visited it many times during the days I canoed the Delaware River. It is a reconstructed village of older times. I spent many hours watching the local beaver build and swim in the streams in and around the village. It is a pleasant and perfect location for such a festival, though some called it a "carnival."

The site features 21 poets. Each poet has three to five poems. Poets read a poem or two. There is a statement from each poet about poetry and a brief biography. As stated earlier, the site also includes lesson plans and teacher guides for use in the classroom. Join a Forum and join in a conversation or start one. Finally, there is a fabulous Resources page.

This is a fun site to share with our scholars, especially for them to access from home.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quin to Shannon

We left the window and shades open. The rooks and the cows and the birds are providing a melodious sound for sleep. It is a good sound sleep. The moon shines in and the stars can be seen. It is a grand last calm night in Ireland.

When I wake, I see Heather out my the fence overlooking the cows and sheep. Breakfast is ready and we are the only guests.

It takes us about 15 minutes to drive from the B&B to the airport. Shannon is small. Hertz is easily found, car is returned and we go through check in and security all the while seeing the beautiful day begin to overcast. After a last pint and highlights of the Manchester United-Chelsea match, we go through the last checkpoint, find some seats and discover we have great free wi-fi. Then is stars to pour. It is a downpour unlike anything we have seen here, but have heard about. We are lucky it is seen as we leave and provides a good note upon which to leave.

The Irish experience was great. the people are very friendly and gracious. The food was great. The driving was so much fun. I loved the roads, the whole experience of driving on the left.

Ted & Heather in Ireland

"Does the 'Real" Ireland Still Exist," a lovely article in the Sunday, May 18, 2008 Travel Section of the NYTimes.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Doolin to Quin

Another spectacular morning. The birds are chirping and the sun is shining. I get up and take a stroll down the lane to view the Cliffs of Moher, our days destination and beyond. They are massive and impressive. Just below us, I hear the Atlantic beating against the shore. I return to the B&B to wake Heather and get the day started. Another great breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. We take a ride down to where the ferries take passengers to Aran Islands and to the Cliffs of Moher. The water is wild and I wonder just how they navigate all the surf. It is a severe land and the Atlantic is big and foamy and load as it bangs against the rocks.

We head out of Doolin for the coast road along the cliffs to Loop Head. The way is constantly filled with awesome views of the cliffs. The road hugs the coast and drives along the top of the cliffs for many miles at a clip. It is good we are here in off season, otherwise these roads would be very very crowded. We find a spot to pull over and take a walk over a glen and into a filed with sheep and see a special grassy spot jutting out into the Atlantic. When we arrive we are at the base of the Cliffs of Moher and can see the majesty of these cliffs from here, beautifully. It is an awesome site. Heather is very taken with the sheep and the lambs in the field we have strolled through.

We finally arrive in Ennis only to find we have to make our way to Quin. As we cross the N18, the highway we need to use to get to Shannon tomorrow, we follow signs to Quin, that take us deep into County Clare farmland. We are staying at the Ardsollus Farm B&B. When we arrive, we are not disappointed. It is peaceful and beautiful. It is a working farm with sheep, cows, horses, cats, and lots of rooks in the many treetops dotting the land. We spend time outside listening and just taking in the special atmosphere this farm offers its visitors. We rest inside the room with the windows open and find peace.

Eventually we go into Quin to see the Quin Abbey and dine at the Monks Well Inn, a very good and unique pub dining experience. It has been a god trip and we are ready to go home.

Today's Pictures

Friday, April 25, 2008

Exploring Doolin

Woke to rain. After breakfast took a lovely ride by the Cliff of Moher and into the Burren. The stonewalls aren’t as plentiful as we have seen in County Galway and County Mayo. However, along the Burren we see a lovely contrast in nature. There are Stretches of fertile land then rocky land and nothing but stonewalls. County Clare has the harshness on the coast, but as we get inland it is a different county. The stonewalls in County Clare are grass covered. It makes for a very soft view and makes the view of the countryside not as harsh or severe. The land is lusher.

It is an early day as we arrive home mid afternoon for a pub lunch and then a nap.

We go back to pub about 8:30 to hear the night’s players. Two older gentlemen and a young lady. One guy plays the squeeze box. The other sings, plays the drum, guitar, and banjo. The young lady sings, plays Irish pipe, flute, banjo, and guitar. She could be the grandchild of either of the men. When she takes a break, the men continue to play. They play a good variety of songs that gets the crowd going and involved with clapping and singing at the right times. Lots of locals are at this show and out number the Americans, unlike last night, which seemed only Americans. The music last night was the same not as varied as tonight. We've seen a wide variety of musical instruments.

A lovely walk home as the moon is just rising and some stars can be seen. The nights have been cloudy, too cloudy to see either moon or stars till tonight.

Today's Pictures

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Aran to Doolin, County Clare.

Again the morning greets us with a bright warm sun. Heather sleeps in and I go down for breakfast. While sitting eating, I turn away for a minute and when I look back out of the window it is pouring. So much for the bike ride. Within half an hour it stops and I’ve finished breakfast. I take some juice and coffee up for Heather. She is still sleeping soundly. As I look out the window I see a glorious rainbow. I grab the cameras and head downstairs and out to get some pictures of this Irish rainbow. It is full and stretches from one end of the island to the other. It will be a grand day. It is too windy to stay till five, so we decide to take the noon ferry back the car and resume our journey to County Clare.

We take a walk in the hour and half we have before the ferry arrives. We walk around the harbor to the shore opposite the hotel. We get to the beach and as we walk, we sink deeply in the sand. I have never walked in beach sand like this. It is so soft. Seagulls are plating, the gentle bay waves are breaking on the shore, the wind is blowing ever so softly. It is peaceful, very very peaceful. We sit for a time and reflect on it and allow the moment to seep into our souls. We see the ferry in the distance and walk back to collect our bags and to catch the ferry. We sit on the deck outside soaking in the sun and the wind. We are cleansed. It is a glorious trip thus far.

The drive from Rossaveel, the ferry port to Doolin was varied and spectacular. To Galway it was through a very affluent set of communities. The houses were beautiful and modern, the roads wide with sidewalks and lampposts. Once we arrived in Galway, we hit traffic, lots of traffic. It was slow going. The roads were well marked with many roundabouts. Suddenly the suburbia road turned rural. We were past Galway and on our way to Doolin. The landscape became friendly and filled with livestock and wasn’t stark. In fact it looked fertile and rich. Around a turn a castle appeared, an ancient fortress from bygone years. Then the coast road and we were on an adventure.

The glaciers had had fun on the coast of Ireland. They left rock and chasms and rock. The people used the rocks to build houses and roads and walls. Thousands of miles of walls over the land called the Burren. Livestock peopled these spaces separated by the walls of man. Nature simply watched and continued to flourish. The coast, the Atlantic battered the coast. Walls created spectacular displays of rock and water clashes. The water came in and spectacularly crashed against the rocks and walls of stone spraying into the air. The brutality of nature is most evident here. Seeing cattle and sheep, corralled by rocks on the edges of the cliff is awesome. They are prisoners. On the one side of the road are the mountains of rocks. On the other side is the Atlantic Ocean, grassy green fields filled with livestock. A contrast of violence.

And in contrast to all this rough, harsh landscape and walls we hear the free, sweet throated birds of Ireland. One hears them everywhere and all day long, from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun. They are an incredible contrast to the violence of nature.

We arrive at our next B&B, The Daly's House. It is on the bluff and with views of castle ruins and the Cliffs of Moher.

Went to the local pub, O’Connors Pub to eat and listen to traditional Irish music. Food and music was grand. Walking home was fun as we traversed the rocky road home in the dark. There was a little flashlight attached to the key, we discovered when we got home.

Today's Pictures

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clifden to Inis Mor, Aran Islands. Happy Birthday Wm Shakespeare.

Up early to another gloriously sunny morning. A magnificent breakfast and an uneventful exit from Clifden with only one wrong right and after a quick correction and reaffirmation of direction we were on the road.

Again sheep dot the roads and hills and stonewalls everywhere. We turn the radio on, for the first time, because we must hear about PA primaries. Our morning is made even better as we hear Hillary won by 10 percentage points. Maybe tomorrow, we will get more details, as today’s papers don’t have the details.

At the major juncture where we have to take a right to get the ferry, we are stopped at a Garda checkpoint for inspection sticker. It is an adventure as it is the first police we have seen. We are assured the right will get us to the ferry in 20 minutes. We are ahead of schedule by 40 minutes. We miss another turn and after a quick backtrack find our last approach to the ferry. It is a Block Island arrangement and look. We park and get on board and are followed by a couple bus tours, one of seniors and the other of school children. The ferry reminded us of the Block Island ferry.

Our hotel, The Pier House, could be seen from the ferry and was at the end of the pier where the ferry landed. After settling in we joined a tour bus with six other people. The tour took us through town and out along the southern route to our first stop, Dun Aonghasa, a Celtic fortress. Along the way we saw part of the 7000 miles of stonewalls on Aran. There construction happened in the early part of the 1900’s to contain animals, clear land for farming, and to serve as property boundaries. The architecture was varied and eclectic, from thatch roofed houses to a circular house and all styles in between. Once we arrive at the first stop, we look for Sarah, a lady who is purported to make the best sweaters on Aran. We find her and Heather buys four sweaters. Three are to be gifts while she keeps one for herself. The hike up the fortress is incredible. The tour demonstrates just how rugged it is to live on this island. Electricity has been here for 30 years. Supplies arrive by boat. The island shares a doctor with another island as well as sharing their priest who has a pilot’s license so he flies between the two islands.

Walking in town after the tour provided us a closer look at the ruggedness of living on this island. We eventually stop at a lovely restaurant. I have a great Fish casserole and Heather has the equally great potato, bacon, beetroot salad topped with a beautifully sliced avocado. The pint has a clover leaf on it. After an early evening nap, I head off to the hostel pub to watch the match between Manchester United and Barcelona. An exciting game ends nil nil. Ronaldo misses a PK and Henry provides some late game excitement. I walk home in a hard driving rain.

Today's Pictures

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Westport to Clifden

We slipped into County Mayo from County Galway for a lovely evening in Westport before heading back to County Galway. In the morning the sun was bright and it looked like it was in the 80’s. But alas, it wasn’t in the 80’s and soon the clouds came in. More like the fog as the surrounding mountains were shrouded in clouds.

It was warmer though and a grand day for a scenic drive through the area hardest hit by the famine of 1849. We passed the museum of the Famine and by Croagh Patrick, The Holy Mountain. From the parking lot, it is a three and one half hour hike. We balked. Perhaps the most astonishing difference between Mayo and Galway are the stonewalls. Mayo has the most glorious and elegant stonewalls and they are everywhere. This land must have been all stone. All the houses are stone and they all have stonewalls. The stonewalls contain sheep, lots and lots of sheep. They are longhaired and have colors on them of red and green.

We drive from Westport to Louisburgh and to Leenane. The folks in Westport and Leenane consider this the most scenic drive in the West. This is confirmed when we arrive at our B&B in Clifden, The Sea Mist. The road reminds us of parts of Iceland and Norway. The major difference is the number of sheep everywhere. There are no fences to contain them so they wander all over the road and down to the lakes and streams and up the hillsides and into the mountains. From one side of the lakes we see them dotting the countryside on the other side. The number of lambs is incredible and the bleating is deafening at times. The scenery of mountains and hills, contrasted with streams and lakes is inspiring and awesome. Very little traffic so stopping along the narrow road is always possible. There are places to pull off. There are plaques commemorating the plight of the people who were here during the Famine. Another noticeable aspect of the place is the wind. It is fierce. My hat is blown off constantly as I get out to take pictures. Another point of interest is how soft the ground is. This is a source for peat. In fact we see many sites where the peat is being cut from the bog and left to dry before packaging.

We stop in Leenane for a pint and soup before continuing on. The view of the bay and the salmon farms with the mountains on either side, littered by the sheep is breathtaking. Once we get back on the road we hug the shoreline a wee bit more. Once we head inland, we come upon Kylemore Abbey. Now a girl’s school, it is still open for tourists. We are on the western road around Connemara National Park.

Upon arriving in Childen, we drive the two main roads of the town and find our B&B, The Sea Mist. A light rain welcomes us. After checking in, we take a stroll into town, view the shops, stop for a scone and tea at a lovely teashop. I stop at the King’s Bar and Snug. They have a real snug. It is very cute. Not used as it once was. It is more of a private party area now and in the summer opened up. Nonetheless, it is good to see a real snug. Instead of doing more touring in the drizzling rain, we cozy up to the fire in the sitting room of the Sea Mist. At teatime we go for a nap. The rain is still falling. New guests arrive and wake us at 5:30. We trod off to town for dinner at a fine old pub, Marrion’s. When we exit, the sun is shining and we walk back to the B&B to pick up the camera and set off down Beach Road to Childen Beach to watch the sunset. We never imagined we were going to see a beautiful, radiant sunset today. We arrived at the stone beach, that reminds us of Block Island, in fact the two, Block Island and Ireland are similar in landscape with the stone walls and rolling hills and now the stone beaches. Along a path over two stiles and to an overlook with a 20 foot bench for viewing the majesty of the sun setting into the Atlantic Ocean. It is 8:55PM when the sun sets. The days are long here.

Tonight the Lowery is having live traditional Irish music. We make our way there for good cheer, a pint or two, and good music. A Liverpool – Chelsea match is ending. Liverpool is up one nil with 4 minutes extra added. Chelsea is pressing for the tie. With eight seconds left, Chelsea has a throw in and it looks as if Liverpool will win. The throw in goes to the foot of a teammate and is centered, but the Liverpool Fullback is first on the low ball and attempts to head it out of play, but instead heads it into his own goal. Chelsea goes crazy and a man at the bar is disgusted and goes crazy in anger. He has lost a bet. Tommy is his name and we strike up a conversation. He lived in NYC for eight years doing construction. Why he returned is still a question he asks himself. We learn he is a local character as all the locals say hi and let me know to be careful. Apparently he is a loud drinker. His family comes in to hear the music. The musicians arrive and are playing some interesting instruments. I’m sorry I don’t have the camera. They start at 10:15 and we’re out of there at 12:15 cause we have to rise early. The streets are empty and it is a lovely warm, still evening walk home.

Today's Pictures

Monday, April 21, 2008

Dublin to Westport

Out of garage go right, take the second right, then the next right. Go straight through light to River Liffey and turn left without going over bridge. Follow this to M4. It was easy enough. Drove M4 to Killeggan where we got off the fast and empty two lane highway onto narrower roads heading to Charleville Castle.

The driving is easy and not a problem. Left turns and right turns still require some thinking, remembering to stay left. We find Charleville Castle and drive a dirt road between ancient stone pillars. We are greeted by some gnarly trees at the entrance to the Charleville Castle. No indication of what to do at the fork, we see walkers and wait for them to get to us. We find out the Castle is closed, but maybe the caretaker will let us in. We are told to follow the right fork to the Castle. We follow an enchanting forest to Charleville castle. The Castle is owned by a private family. We met a young lady with her baby at the entrance. She was from Amityville, NY, visiting her mom who owned the Castle. They allowed us to see some of the rooms, though the Castle was not open and in disrepair. It was mind boggling to think a family owned this castle and it showed just how hard it was for someone to own a Castle and how many people it took to maintain it. We left amazed and dazed driving back incredibly scenic narrow roads and finding more ancient castle remains and lots sheep.

At one spot with a building that looked like Tintern Abbey, I stopped to take some pictures of it and the sheep. Very rustic. While taking the pictures they began to bleat and charge towards us, thinking we had food or were going to open the gate. They greeted us as if they knew us or were expecting us.

On to Clonmacnoise. This is an incredible place and a fantastic story about the site. Spent some time touring the ruins and hearing the fantastic story of these monks.

Slipped into Mayo and found a great B&B, The Boulevard, in Westport. After settling in and going out for a walk, we ran into a young man, James, who had just caught a rainbow trout in the stream across from the B&B. He threw it back in.We walked around town, a lovely town, had a late dinner and turned in early.

Today's Pictures.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Day Two in Dublin

We rose to the melodious sounds of the bells of Christ Church at 10:45. To start the day we had a traditional Irish Breakfast in the hotel restaurant. By noon we were on the tour bus that took us to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells. It was an absolutely fascinating exhibition. Seeing the actual book was inspiring; however, the exhibit that precedes it is astonishing. It is all about bookbinding and creation of books. It reminded me of my bookbinding class in college that helped inspire CyberEnglish. The real highlight of the Trinity College tour was the Long Room. The Long Room is an incredibly old and incredibly surreal library at Trinity. It blew me away. I had to sit and just admire the beauty, the magnificence, the grandeur of the room. It has to be one of the most inspiring places I have ever been.

We walked around the corner to have a pint and to reflect on the experience at O'Neills. Another great soccer game was on the TV as we imbibed and chatted. The atmosphere of a good pub during a soccer game is a grand experience. We returned to the hotel and got the cameras. I wanted to film from the bus as we made our way to the Writers Museum. We are getting to know Dublin quite well as we hear from different drivers on the Hop On - Hop Off bus.

The Writers Museum of Dublin is fantastic. The audio tour is good, the exhibits are good. A great tour and wonder when Frank McCourt will be added. After the Writers Museum we walked back to O'Connell St past the Post Office, the site of the 1916 uprising, and across the bridge to Trinity College and caught the bus back to the hotel. In the hotel pub was a grand group playing traditional Irish music. We settled in for a pub meal, some Guinness and good music. The group playing was local. They invited those in the audience to sing or play. The audience sang those classic Irish songs, the din was raucous, and the cheer was friendly. Being in this pub for the past two evenings has helped us understand Dublin and Ireland. They are locals. We chatted with them and learned a lot about this country. We feel lucky to be outside the tourist bars and in the middle of things in Dublin. The last song was The Irish National Anthem. Everyone stopped what they were doing and stood quietly. The whole evening was inspiring and demonstrated a fantastic appreciation of honor and country. A walk along the Liffey River and back made for a good moonlight walk.

See a video of bus tour of Dublin.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Landing in Dublin

Leaving NYC was smooth on Friday April 18, 2008 for Dublin, Ireland. We left JFK at 9:40PM and arrived on time at 8:50 AM Dublin time. We left NYC with a temperature of 80 degrees and arrived in Dublin to 45 degree 20-30 mph winds. We disembarked the plane onto the tarmac. The weather was raw, a great introduction to Ireland.

Sláinte chugat. We will be in Ireland for the next ten days.

Entering another country from USA is always pleasant, civilized, and quick. Picked up luggage and went to get car. Now I have been having sleepless nights thinking about driving in Ireland, they drive on the wrong side of the road. I've never done that on purpose. Well, once we go to the car, we did the traditional thing, I opened the door for Heather and low and behold there was a steering wheel. We started to laugh, we knew this was going to be an adventure. Once we got ourselves into the right places of the car, we were off and immediately I was confronted with a roundabout and some cars were behind me. I pulled over and let them lead. It is better to follow than lead in this situation. So I followed. We followed the directions we were given to get us from Dublin airport to our hotel in Dublin, The Harding Hotel. On the M1 to Dublin, I missed the turn to City Centre and ended up in the tunnel toll road with lots of lorries. When we arrived at the toll, I got into the lane with no human to take my money, paper when they wanted 3 Euros. Well I got out of the car, and approached the car behind me. A little girl in the passenger seat indicated it was 3 Euros with her fingers. The driver, her father recognized I was in a Hertz rental because he worked for Hertz. I needed coins and had only paper. He had 5 Euros in coin for my paper 5 Euros. I thanked them for my SNAFU, dropped 3 coins in the basket and after getting into the car awkwardly, proceeded to Dublin.

Let me speak about this driving experience thus far. At this point I'm sweating and I'm very nervous. Everything is backwards. I now understand Alice in Alice in Wonderland. My instincts are all wrong. It took me a long time to understand the car when I was at Hertz. The mirrors are all wrong. I look right instead of left to see the in car mirror. I am saying to myself, stay left, stay left, stay left. In the car a sticker is affixed to the windshield also reminded me of this. Getting in and out of the car is new, turning around to back is wrong, everything is left handed. It is weird and requires so much concentration.

Okay, so I am calming down, I am getting used to the manual shift using my left hand and driving on the left. We arrive in Dublin and now we have to find the streets to get us to our hotel. Street signs are on the side of buildings and so small we need binoculars to read them. So I drive along the River Liffey looking for street to get me to the bridge to get me across to the side with our hotel. I have no choice as I arrive at a light that demands we go left over the river. On other side I go right and travel the Quay Road which changes name every block. I am lost, I'm driving on the wrong side of the street, in a car completely backwards for me, in a city I don't know and can't find navigation signs. I'm going with the flow. We pass places I recognize from Joyce's Ulysses and the shows of Frank McCourt and Rachel Ray watched before we came to Ireland. I've decided I need to turn left soon to get to our hotel, which is across the street from Christ Church. I go left at Parliament, because I recognize it and it is connected to Copper Alley, the location of our hotel. We spend the next 2o minutes driving in circles and conducting U-Turns and finally arrive at eh hotel. Our room isn't ready. I put our bags in the holding room, put on a sweater, and we are off. We took the car to a parking lot and deposited it for the next two days. We walked back to the hotel and Christ Church and found a cute little coffee shop to get ourselves organized and centered. After we got our caffeine we sent off to Christ Church and tried to find the stops form the City Tour bus. Thank goodness a bus came along so we could find the stop. We boarded for 15 Euros each. This was a great decision. We tour the city, with entertaining tour guides and find benchmarks. Highly recommended. We see most of everything we have read about and prepared ourselves to see. We have our bearings. The bus arrives back at our hotel in time for us to check in. We check in and take a nap. We woke at 5 and headed out to Temple Bar, Grafton Street, and dinner at Fire. It is still cold and windy. The streets are crowded, on this Saturday night in Dublin. Walking the Temple Bar area is like being in a college town. The pubs are overflowing, the Irish music is everywhere, and the kids are costumed. The place is a young person's town. We walk into a few pubs and realize without seats, this is not where we want to be. We forge on to Grafton Street. Then there it is, Davy Byrne's Pub. We find a table next the bar and order the Pint. My first one.

When we leave we are ready to eat and head off to Fire on Dawson Street, around the corner. We get a table, but we have to leave it by 9PM, haha, no problem, it is 7PM. The place is magnificent. We know the restaurant is known for its grilled food. There is a huge grill in the prominent corner of the restaurant. The food is excellent and meets our expectations. When we left, it was raining lightly and the streets are empty.

We decide to find a new way back to the hotel and get lost, very lost, haha. Once we get back on track, we find classic pubs and sites. Once we get back to our hotel, we discover our hotel has a fabulous pub. Fabulous because it has classic Irish music and then a second show of classic 60's and 70's music. The folks in the pub are our age, we are young and it is our music. We are home.

We have a fifth floor room in the back. It is quiet, clean, and fabulous. It was a great first day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

War Poems

Today's Blog turns deadly. Just as Love is used as the theme and subject of lots of poetry, so too, is War.

click image for more information.

What is the cost of this war?

While I'm away, I wish to leave you with a link to my WAR Poetry page. It is massive and was begun at the beginning of the Iraq War March 19, 2003. It is my personal statement on the subject of War.


click image for the faces of those who have died.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Passion In Pieces

Passion in Pieces is a film project by Sam Small examining five of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets. It is an education project. This is an absolutely fascinating project that can be modeled by us for our own scholars' use. Scholars could create a video of a sonnet or other poem and use that video to explain their interpretation. I had a scholar use Flash for his final brilliant project on Midsummer Night's Dream. Here is one example using Sonnet 138. It really brings out the importance of the word "lie" as it comes alive in the many meanings and by watching the actor's faces. Explore this site and have fun.

Another Project is to have the scholars write their own sonnet. Here is a worksheet I use.

What is a sonnet?

Use an Italian or English rhyme scheme.

Use Iambic pentameter

Use Imagery

Use Metaphors

Use Similes

Use Personification

Use Rhyme Zone As you create your own poems,
use this rhyming dictionary to help you find the perfect word.

Use Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Use Roget's Thesaurus

Repeat KEY words when necessary to help evoke the theme.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two Love Sonnets

Yesterday I told you I would explore two famous Love Sonnets. We can use the same tools we used yesterday to deconstruct these two sonnets today. One sonnet is by Shakespeare and the other sonnet is by E. B. Browning.

William Shakespeare
Sonnet #18
Apr 23, 1564 - Apr 23 1616

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shalt death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

XLIII. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Here is the beginning of an analysis sheet for Shakespeare's sonnet, we created in class to help the scholars work through the sonnet.

"Let me compare thee.." Shakespeare

A. Type of poem
1. sonnet
2. 14 lines

B. rhyme scheme
1. ababcdcdefefgg
2. quatrains
a. paraphrase 1, Q/P
b. paraphrase 2
c. paraphrase 3
d. rhyming couplet A/S

C. meter
1. iambic
2. pentameter
3. different line ? importance

D. literary terms
1. metaphors
a. which one
b. which one
2. personification
a. example

E. repetition of words (importance)
1. more 2X
2. fair 3X
3. eternal 2X
4. so long 2X
5. summer 4X
6. this in last line

F. theme = beauty, love


Here is the work sheet for Browning's sonnet.

How do I Love thee? E B Browning
A. type of poem
1. sonnet
2. 14 lines

B. Rhyme Scheme
1. abbaabbacdcdcd: function
2. octet/sestet
a. question: ?
b. answer: ?
3. paraphrase poem

C. Meter
1. Iambic
2. pentameter
3. different line, which one?

D. literary elements
1. metaphors
a. 2-3; 12-13, explain them
b. SIMILES 7&8
2. images: 5 senses

E. repetition of words
1. i love thee 7 X
2. the last line

F. theme of love


I will leave you to have fun with these on your own and to play around in class.