Sunday, June 08, 2008

In the Colonial City (a guide for tourists)


Although it is starting to get old, there are a couple of big pluses about moving frequently: you throw away lots of stuff and you find old stuff forgot about because it was packed away. As I was going through old file folders tonight, I came across a piece I wrote in 1995 or 1996. Can't remember exactly when, but I know it was written during a summer training session for English teachers. This was a "writing process" workshop. A whole week. All very scripted and taught by a senior high school teacher.

We read works of our choosing and then we wrote. I remember the novel I read The Painted Bird by Jerzy KosiƄski. Awesome book if you haven't read it. (Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia article quotes DG Meyers from Texas A&M who was my wife's advisor when she was a brand new English grad student back in 1990)

Anyway, during this teacher training, I missed out on the fact that we were supposed to be writing personal narratives. I should have been clued in all the other Language Art's teachers were writing their dead grandmother's or some equally trite stuff freshmen comp students would write about.

In any cause, I worked on this prose poem that I found tonight, which I ended up calling "In the Colonial (a guide for tourist)" I worked on it during the writing sessions and even "shared" some of it when given the opportunities. I remember writing some of it using a dumb terminal connected to my UNIX account on TENET (the texas educators network).

Near the end of the week, we were going to "publish" our work (that is the end of the writing process, you know) in some happy-ass little collection of all the language art's teachers' writish, but that didn't happen. I don't remember the term (for a first person narrative) but they said this isn't a "blah" piece. They said there wasn't enough "me" in it. Now the "they" I'm referring to was a middle-aged high school teacher that was terribly patronizing and actually treated me like her one of her kids. Now patronizing, middle-age female teachers with more seniority (and thought they knew everything) than were the 3rd worst thing about being in the public schools (the first two things were grading and making parent phone calls).

I've always had the bad habit of going against the grain. Not five years earlier a sympathetic Master Sergeant had taken me out of my PLDC class at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas and said I needed to shape up, quit questioning the curriculum and the primary instructor or I'd get sent back home. So "Specialist Franz" kept his mouth shut for the next week or so, so he could graduate and get his Sergeant's stripes a few years later because he was so lazy about putting in promotion packets.

The long and short of it, is they ended up publishing some poem I'd written in college that had even less of me in it than this piece.

* * *

As a failed writer (yeah I was an English/Creative writing major in College), I was fairly competent at imagery but horrible at plot. I hated stories, even though I tried to write short fiction. Nothing ever really happened in the stuff I wrote and when I tried to add plot elements I hated what a wrote.

* * *

In The Colonial City
(a guide for tourists)

1. History and Geography
2. The Legacy of Conquest
3. Illnesses of Time and Space
4. The Open Plain

No comments: