There are certain books for us at Sacred Chickens that herald the arrival of summer every year. Here are some of the ones we always read!
For many people, books evoke certain feelings, emotions or memories. Some books you love so much that you could read them over and over again, like visiting an old friend. Some books are reminiscent of certain seasons, and since summer is upon us, here are the books that we at Sacred Chickens read every summer.
For me nothing says summer like Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. When the strongest scented flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and heat waves shimmer like magic, nothing seems more probable than a land of nonsense, totally without consequence, where a giant egg pay words to mean exactly what he wants them to mean and naughty children turn into pigs.
My second choice is Emily Dickinson. All her poetry feels like summer to me, rhymes as slanted as the late summer sun, as simple as a white cotton dress and a light breeze, but with summer’s living depth of deep green as well.
Today Jarad is sharing a childhood experience that shaped the way he views books and literature.
Sacrilege. I’ve always liked that word. It sounds grandiose, dramatic, like a high crime or grave misdeed has been committed. It sounds dark in a way, one of the words in the English language that feels velvety and rich when it’s said. It’s doesn’t seem like it’s just meant to be spoken though; it’s meant to shouted in a king or queen’s court at a heretic plotting against the crown. Regardless, it’s one of those words I loved since childhood. Since the story of how I came to know the and love the word involves books, I thought I would share it with you.
Today Jarad is sharing his thoughts on losing books. When's the last time you lost a book?
I recently lost a book. I don’t know if this happens to other people, but my particular brand of absent-mindedness means that I often set things down with reckless abandon and then promptly forget about them. I put my mom’s keys down on my desk and when she asked me where they were at, I had no idea. We spent 30 minutes tearing the house apart, but we both eventually located it.
This Searing Light, the Sun, and Everything Else. Joy Division: The Oral History
Written by Jon Savage
Review by Roy Peak
Joy Division was an English rock band from the late seventies who made dark soundscapes of electric poetry, intense punk rock, and gothic slabs of noise pop. They formed after the individual members were witness to an early show by the Sex Pistols and, despite not knowing how to play any instruments, were inspired enough to start their own band. They came up with their own unique sound, unmatched since, and quickly became one of the bands to see in Manchester as well as the north of England. On the eve of their first tour of America and right before the release of their second album, Ian Curtis, the band's charismatic and mysterious lead singer and lyricist, killed himself. The band soldiered on later with a new name, New Order, but were never able to find lightning in a bottle like they had the first time.
Sometimes gardening can be tough. Jarad shares his thoughts on the less pleasant chores in the garden
I love plants; I really do, but there are parts of gardening I don’t enjoy. Weeding isn’t fun, and neither is pruning particularly, but removing sod is probably the worst chore I’ve encountered so far. Firstly, grass is heavy. Very heavy. A couple of days ago, I removed grass for my little vegetable garden this summer. It took 6 hours one day and four the next. I was covered in mud, hands were full of blisters, and I’m sore in places I didn’t even know existed. Grass is now my least favorite plant! But it’s worth it so I can grow a few vegetables and herbs, plant garlic in the fall, and at least I won’t have to repeat the process next year. Still, there were moments when I questioned why in the hell I was doing this ridiculous thing, can’t I grow corn in a pot, and watermelons can grow in pots as well right? You know, really, really big pots? This is what I was thinking as I removed all that grass. And while I’m sure they could, but I wouldn’t have been happy with just that.
Here are some short stories that we think you should read. We all picked different genres and types of stories, so there's something for everyone here. Let us know if you decide to check something out! Happy reading!
What: Instant Love, by Jami Attenberg
Why: I’ve just discovered this book, originally published in 2006, but I instantly fell in love with it. (Ha! Notice the clever play on the title). It’s a series of linked short stories about three women and their romantic histories. It’s clean, engaging, and true.
Here is an essay I wrote on the movie Fire by Deepa Mehta
Fire is an Indian Film that I watched as part of my Feminist Theory class and I wanted to share some thoughts I had about it on the blog. I think it’s definitely worth a watch. Although there are certainly cultural differences, much of the underlying assessment of patriarchal power structures has global significance. The following is a paper that I wrote exploring the ideas in the movie - in case you’re wondering about the slightly more academic style than usual.
I may have recently developed a seed buying addiction, but I've been addicted to books for most of my life. I have books piling up on the floor, on tables, on top of the fridge; they're everywhere, and threatening to take over all the room in my house. But I don't really mind that.
I bought several books by Virginia Woolf- A Room of One's Own and Three Guineas, among others. I grabbed everything off the shelf that I could find, and couldn't help but wish there was more. Regardless, I intend to read everything that I have- and then buy more! I wanted to read her books because i feel like she's more interesting than half the men in the Literary Canon, as well as being a great writer.
Ok. I realize many people think that grammar is a boring topic, but this is not an essay telling you the importance of the parts of speech or advocating for more grammar worksheets. This is adapted from an essay I wrote for a grammar and linguistics class talking about problems with grammar education and how to effectively teach it.
Grammar is something everyone is taught in school, but many people still struggle with. Think about your own experience in English class. Didn’t it seem like you spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about commas and trying to remember the difference between adverbs and adjectives? Maybe it just seems that way because it was so boring.
Recommended Reading: Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important,
by Andrew Simmons
Review by Julie Carpenter
I have recently started tutoring. Whereas teaching is more like preventative healthcare, tutoring is surgical. Students are preparing for specific tests or trying to catch up in a specific subject. The teaching styles can be somewhat different. Still, I like to keep up with ideas about classroom teaching, and I find that some students need to wake up different parts of their brains before they can focus on the immediate skills they are trying to acquire.
While I was perusing the educational landscape, I came across this article: Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important, by Andrew Simmons. The article is thought provoking, and I recommend reading it even if you’re not currently in school, or you don’t have children in school; everyone is affected by the results of our education system.
Simmons feels that poetry has been shuffled aside in the modern classroom, and he regrets the fact. He says,
“In an education landscape that dramatically deemphasizes creative expression in favor of expository writing and prioritizes the analysis of non-literary texts, high school literature teachers have to negotiate between their preferences and the way the wind is blowing. That sometimes means sacrifice, and poetry is often the first head to roll.”
He mourns this fact because he notes that reading poetry aloud, writing, and analyzing poetry is a “gateway to other writing.” Poetry values the succinct, descriptive, subconsciously rhetorical rendering of moments and objects. This makes students better able to grasp the point, to summarize, and to understand the emotional depths in all kinds of argumentation. Even science writing can require emotional and rhetorical appeals. (Read Paul Bogard’s lovely and poetic Let There Be Dark, a mixture of science and poetry designed to win the reader to his point of view.)
Simmons notes that some students who don’t “get essays," love poetry, relieved by the ability to express themselves without fixed rules. Teachers can also use poetry to allow students to see how poets break and keep the rules of language and how the reader is affected in either case.
Simmons makes a good case for bringing poetry back into the classroom in this short article. More than that, this article made me think about what we prioritze in teaching and why? Should we always focus on the what over the why? Do we need to take a moment to look up and see some small piece of the world from someone else's perspective? Poetry acknowledges the mysterious intersection between individual and universal perception. If this is not a goal of common education, shouldn’t it be?