Monday, April 12, 2010

Classroom As Sacred Space

In the classroom, a work of fiction—or nonfiction, for that matter—if brought in as a guest, has the capacity to unleash its energy into the collective psyche of the members in the room, to be amplified. Or like a beam through a magnifying glass, to gather the power to start a fire, to kindle something deep in the woody pulp of the soul, to fire it up, to create a reservoir of enthusiasmos. Enthusiasmos: a word used to convey the presence of the god within, often in the figure of Dionysos, such that learning occurs on a more advanced and vertical level and thereby gains a capacity to alter a human being. Sometime all one need do is notice innuendo, which can by itself be sufficient spark to ignite a forest fire.

The essay that follows is therefore more experiential than scholarly, in the sense that it is not preoccupied with mustering and mastering evidence from primary and secondary sources for either support or persuasive mucilage. Rather, I wish to muse in memory for a bit on what my experience of a good classroom experience consists of, what I have watched occur, and what conditions often coagulate to attend such a pole of pedagogy. The consequence of such a class are nothing short of miraculous; time and space themselves alter to accommodate and actually participate in the conversion through conversation. Converse is the Appian Way to such a change of heart.

-Dennis Patrick Slattery

An excerpt taken from the essay, “What White Whale Breaches? Classroom As Sacred Space” published in Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul of Learning New Orleans: Spring, 2009, p. 92.

To peek inside the book or to buy Reimagining Education: Essays On Reviving the Soul of Learning go here.

To read a book review of Reimagining Education go here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The True Terror of Terrorism

From 9/11/01 to the present seems like an eternal gap; then again it was just yesterday. How to say anything about it has been part of my dilemma; yet to fix it in a ceremony of speech, is a necessity. Something at the heart of our national psyche seeks recognition and remembrance. Forgetting is not part of the equation.

excerpt from the essay "The True Terror of Terrorism" taken from A Limbo of Shards: Essays On Memory, Myth and Metaphor © 2007 Dennis Patrick Slattery, iUniverse (see Ch 26)

The essay is published on line through Click the link to read more of this essay.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hammered Fire

Early each morning I grasp my pen,
steel-pointed, as a blacksmith
clenches the handle of his hammer.

I long to strike the anvil of the world
soul to make it ring, to sing out
a high pitch
that penetrates the core of
steely silence.

Mallet, hammer, sledge, pen—something
needs breaking, a smithy of words and
wielding iron hide to resist. I smell joy
in things resisting, in my own raucous
happy clenching.

My forehead rests against the hardness of things, the iron
sense of metallic musings.
Breaking bellows keeps the fire roaring,
the breath of creation's musings.

Oh, to pound out my name in iron, to
dent the surface of real steel!
To leave for my sons even one initial,
would initiate me into
Vulcan's maimed club of iron
fists. How dare I resist?

Words weld themselves to one
another. Some new black and still
hot thing is pinched from the
fire by tongs, themselves
fashioned in the forge.
Life's breath from the bellows
inspires their work, breathes
life into coarse iron.

Between the raised hammer and the
expectant anvil lies a great
Bow, then; turn the black metal of
solitude towards the heat of a melting rod.

Life quickens in the forge. Tempers
cool in the screech of steel pummeled by

Some deep core of iron in me tempers
in elements clashing. It seeks some taming
as old as elemental strife.

How is it we are simple self-forgers
seeking the heat of a dark salvation?

With my steel pen happy I hammer into
harmonious rhythm heavy words on to
pages of vibrant sheet metal and fix
their destiny:
Hoc est unum corpus meum.
Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus.

-from Just Below The Water Line: Selected Poems
p36 © 2004 Winchester Canyon Press