Monthly Archives: March 2014

Am I Good Enough?

A good 5 AM read. What else do you ask yourself at 5AM?


Am I Good Enough

I was speaking at a local high school about writing. Afterward, a girl came up to me with a notebook of handwritten poems. She showed them to me shyly and asked,

“Are they good enough?”

I didn’t need to read them to know that they were good enough. She was fifteen. She had a dream. While her friends were playing violent video games and getting pregnant, she was writing poetry. That’s good enough for me.

“They are wonderful,” I said.

I am not sure we were talking about the same thing.

It’s a big question for a writer: am I good enough?

Am I good enough to get published? To get reviewed? To win an award? To make money? To come out in hardcover? To move people to tears? To win the respect of my older brother who said I would never make it?

I advise English majors. Every so…

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Reading Out of Context

I’ve not read any Murakami at all, but I love this blog post.

radical eyes for equity

ac·a·dem·icadjective a-kə-ˈde-mik having no practical importance; not involving or relating to anything real or practical.


Currently, I have three seniors on track to certify as secondary English teachers doing extended field experiences in local schools—one is placed in an eighth-grade ELA class and another is teaching college-bound students in a high school.

While observing at the middle school, I arrived early one day while the full-time teacher was finishing a discussion of Walter Dean Myers’s Monster. The teacher had to cut the read aloud short, and one student begged for him to continue reading. The teacher asked for the books to be passed forward, prompting that same student to ask to hold on to his copy so he could keep reading (the teacher arranged for the student to retrieve a copy later, by the way).

In the high school class, the teacher-to-be has been teaching poetry by…

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

“Among my associates, there were no takers.”- Maya Angelou on finding a boyfriend.

I loved this book. It was like poetry. Maybe I loved it more because I found a recording of Maya Angelou, herself reading it. I loved especially her descriptions of her brother, Bailey. There were sections, such as this section, that I thought should be read in middle school classrooms. Then there were other sections that I wasn’t so sure about but I guess it would be okay because I read The House on Mango Street in the eighth grade without any issue as to the content. Well, that’s not entirely true. I read the rape scene out loud to the entire class without knowing the girl had been raped. Sure, I knew something bad had happened. I knew they hurt her and I knew they touched her in inappropriate ways but I read it to the class like I was reading a new list of vocabulary words. I didn’t pause or stop or anything. For some reason, it weirded the teacher out. She asked me to stay after class. When she asked me if I understood what I read I said yes. I thought I’d be in trouble or she’d think me stupid if I said otherwise but as she talked to me I realized that more happened to the girl than I’d originally assumed. Anyway, that book comes later in my vicarious journey.


I found that I related well to the young Maya, which was refreshing since I’ve been reading so much YA lit recently for a class and I cannot relate to any of the characters in the books on the syllabus. Gemma from Smack is hopelessly stupid and obnoxious. Devon Davenport from After seems like a character that could not possibly exist although I laud the author’s good intentions. Infanticide, especially by distraught young mothers is a confusing topic that someone needs to shed some light on. Maya was a real character though. I know there’s a bit of an advantage here in that she’s also autobiographical but she was so heartbreakingly honest about her faults that it was impossible not to love her and relate to her. She was certainly a thousand times more courageous that I could ever be but I knew all to well her not so altruistic quest to be “good” and her insecurities that she allowed to pollute her notions of good and evil. The writing was vulnerable and that’s what made it real and alluring.

My only complaint would be that it ended so abruptly and that it ended at all.


Next on the list is California with Inherent Vice. I’m not super psyched about this one so who knows when I’ll get around to it with all the other YA and Gothic reading on my list. Also, I’ve committed myself to reading David Copperfield. I do not remember quite why but I shook hands on it on a subway platform in Mexico City. So, it must have been of the utmost importance to the development of my character. With all of that though. I’m beginning to question whether or not I will make it in 4.16 years. Things were looking well in January, but now, as March draws to a close, I’ve only finished with the “A” states. Maybe I won’t go in order. Maybe the next letter will not be “C”. I don’t want to read Inherent Vice right now. I suppose I could jump to “W” then jump back to “C” and end somewhere in the middle. That actually sounds good. I’d be quite content with Reservation Blues. I like Sherman Alexie and I’ve been meaning to get to this one. I just recently read his YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I didn’t find it as good as his adult stuff. I don’t know why Flight isn’t considered YA but it was pretty amazing. I liked it better. Reservation Blues has been on my list for awhile. I do feel like going out of order might be cheating so I’ll leave it up to fate, and my library’s pathetic collection. I’ll see which one they have after work today. I have no reason to believe they’ll have both because well, it’s a terrible library but they just might have one.

I’m not really sure Why I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings counted as Arkansas. A great deal of it was not set there. Oh well. Perhaps that’s all Arkansas really has in the way of literature set there. That was a challenge Arkansas.


“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”- Maya Angelou describing her mother


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