Posts Tagged ‘John Green’

  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.


The theater was practically empty on a Tuesday afternoon during a storm. But Carolyn and I didn’t mind. We both forgot our Kleenex, so she slipped out just when Augustus and Hazel got to Amsterdam knowing full well we would both need napkins. Why do we do this to ourselves? Yet we were both gloriously sobbing. Cleansing or stupid?

I warn my students when they have to read Where the Red Fern Grows in the summer between 5th and 6th grade, “Do not read the end in public. Close yourself into your room and get under the sheets.”

Carolyn and I both read the book. We knew what was coming, but we watched anyway. And loved it. I don’t really understand why, except that humans are like this. We want to love, and we want to watch others fall in love. I was right there with Hazel and Augustus. I don’t even know the actors’ real names.

Literature and good movies move us. They reveal to us the faults, the beauty, and the sadness of life in a way that is safe. We can crawl under the covers and read the book, wipe away the tears, and move on. Move on in a better way, more full, heart attuned to life. The leaves look greener somehow.

I don’t know if you should go see The Fault in our Stars, but if you do, your heart will swell and you will cry, but as Augustus says to Hazel, “Oh, I don’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.” It is a privilege to have your heart broken by The Fault in our Stars.

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Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

Join the Tuesday Slice of Life!

john green quote

This weekly Slice of Life Challenge makes me write. Sometimes, the writing comes easily. Sometimes, I re-write it ten times. Sometimes, I don’t know what to say. Sometimes, I think what I say is stupid, or worse, uninteresting.

This quote from John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars (which is an awesome book, btw) really hit home with me. I have to do a lot of self-talk to convince myself that I have something to say. I want to be worthy of your time spent here.

On Saturday, I went to Wordlab. I hadn’t been in a while, so I forgot how stimulating and yet, frightening, it is to sit with a group and write raw and read raw. This week’s guest writer-presenter was Charles Garrett. He first asked us to write 10 American sentences. I had not heard of the American sentence before. Apparently coined by Alen Ginsberg, who rejected the Japanese haiku, the American Sentence is a sentence of 17 syllables.

The apple in his eye had a bite taken out, a black and blue spot.

Don’t say this is easy until you have drawn on the page left-handed.

Speaking of the black bird singing, did you hear the owl who cooks for you?

In a perfect world where lines are straight and black is black, no grey, I’m blind.

My hips are square in this red chair, but my mind is flying to the moon.

Crazy, right? Then Charles asked us to choose one of the lines to be the title of our poem. As if that wasn’t hard enough, then we had to chose a line from within poem 1 to be the last line of poem 2. Our brains were stretched and prodded and poked, but none of us gave up.

I combined these prompts with a technique from Ava Haymon that I tried with students last week, repetition.
So even though I don’t think I have written a brilliant poem, these writing exercises give me something to write and keep me breathing and healthy.

Not everyone sings in the shower.
Not everyone believes Namaste.
Not everyone digs in the hard ground,
or buys roses to bloom the next day.

Not everyone steals to feel worthy.
Not everyone wants a stiff drink.
Not everyone smells like a flower,
or washes their hands in the sink.

Not everyone loves their own mother.
Not everyone wears socks in the bed.
Not everyone turns on the TV
to hear what the weatherman said.

Not everyone reads The New Yorker.
Not everyone watches cartoons.
Not everyone adds sugar to coffee,
or stays in pajamas ’til noon.

Not everyone likes to write poems.
Not everyone knows how to rhyme.
Not everyone has the same gifts
or discovers them all in good time.

–Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

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