Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bread Drama

Here are two more variations on Kafka fragments:

Kafka's original:

The moonlight dazzled us. Birds shrieked from tree to tree. There was a buzzing and whizzing in the fields.

We crawled through the dust, a pair of snakes.


My variations:

Mouths were jungles. Birds shrieked from tooth to tooth. There was a buzzing and whirring. Tongues crawled up throats, inventing snakes and language.


The kitchen shocked us. Plates clattered from counter to floor. There was a muffled shrieking and wailing.
Grandpa crawled inside walls, turning off lights from the other side.


I gave my grade five students an assignment to write some text that went along with some music that I played. One piece, the very marvelous Regarding Starlight by David Mott a slowly unfolding meditative piece for very high baritone saxophone harmonics. Very delicate and beautiful. One student, wrote this:

Deadly things happening in a dark war.
People dying, bombs flying.

Soft bread turning into old bread.
It's like new yellow cheese
becoming old and blue.

That bread in the second stanza is amazing. How he used the image of the bread aging to reflect -- what? -- mortality, aging and the transient nature of life. Another student wrote a piece that included a shocking line about butterflies fluttering around and then hanging themselves. It's very striking how these 10 year olds search around for images to express the magnitude, the seriousness, the deep tragedy that they imagine. Given the right setting, some of these kids can dig deep and demonstrate remarkable sensitivity and insight.

I try not to get too worked up about it in front of them, and also remember that they loved the joke about Greensleeves being about wiping snot onto your sleeves.

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