Tag Archives: folio society

Diary of an English Teacher in His Penultimate Year, Redux: Michael Reads Rumi

Here we go. Another shot at the video blog. This little thing has little to offer in the way of “diary” and nothing to do with an English teacher’s penultimate year, but I found this Rumi poem that I just had to read. Took a few takes at this, the first time through, wrestling with glasses and a book I ended up making some terrible microphone noises that I just could not live with, even though that first take was probably better than what I ended up with. Flying by the seat of my pants does indeed seem to be the way to get the best performance. I’m kind of that way in the music studio as well: the more times I play it, the worse it gets. This turned out nicely, I think, but it’s in two chunks because I made a mistake reading the poem but liked the intro thing and didn’t want to do the whole deal again. Enjoy. Rumi, by way of Coleman Barks.

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Filed under Poetry

#234: On Rereading a Clean Copy of Beloved

My classroom copy is copiously
marked in three or four
colors of highlighter and
underlined and bracketed
and annotated with pen and pencil
seven different ways to Sunday.
I’ve read and reread
and reread this novel perhaps
eight or nine times now,
but this time I choose
a clean, elegant copy over
my raggedy-ass classroom
copy and it’s like reading
it for the first time again.
I’m a sucker for fine editions
and could not resist this one.
I can smell the ink.
I can feel the lettering
engraved into the spine
like braille, or like the text
carved into a tombstone.
And my reading this time
is not cluttered by my previous
readings, marked up by
some earlier version of me
who thought he had answers.
I complain sometimes
about the time I lack to
read new work because
I am always rereading to
teach. And yet, with this gem,
I might be happy if it were
the only book I could ever
read until I died.
Every time I read it
I find new things to love
and new reasons to mourn or hope,
and I understand more deeply
how tragic our history,
how tenacious our ghosts,
how all the repair work
in our country that needs doing
(now more than ever before)
springs from this, from this.

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Filed under Literature, Poetry, Teaching, Writing and Reading