Friday, December 21, 2012

Poem Acceptance

I am happy to report that one of my poems, "He Told Me," has been accepted for publication in the upcoming issue of OVS Magazine.  This is a great literary magazine that brings literature and visual art together.

Feel free to check them out here.

I will keep everyone updated about when it comes out and where it's available.  But for now, please enjoy one of my favorite John Ashbery poems - a poem about poetry.

Paradoxes and Oxymorons
by John Ashbery

This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level.
Look at it talking to you. You look out a window
Or pretend to fidget. You have it but you don’t have it.
You miss it, it misses you. You miss each other.

The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and cannot.
What’s a plain level? It is that and other things,
Bringing a system of them into play. Play?
Well, actually, yes, but I consider play to be

A deeper outside thing, a dreamed role-pattern,
As in the division of grace these long August days
Without proof. Open-ended. And before you know
It gets lost in the steam and chatter of typewriters.

It has been played once more. I think you exist only
To tease me into doing it, on your level, and then you aren’t there
Or have adopted a different attitude. And the poem
Has set me softly down beside you. The poem is you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Submitting Final Grades Before the End of the World

Well, here it is - the end of the semester.  Finals have been studied for, papers have been written.  Professors are gathering their strategies for dealing with grade complaints; students are gathering their things and heading home to celebrate the holidays with their families.  My world is filled with final portfolios and urgent student emails.  Until this morning, I forgot that tomorrow is the end of the world.


Don't get me wrong - I'm not a believer.  I was in Central America this past summer and the tour guides at the Mayan ruins  were completely unaffected by the possibility that the Mayans had predicted the end of the world.  They were skeptical, but happy; after all, they make money off of those of us who want to see the ruins and question the mysticism of a culture long-gone.  But even with no batteries in the house, no bottled water, I'm working hard to get my final grades in before tomorrow.  Why?

Cahal Pech Ruins, Belize - May, 2012

Reason #1:  If they survive, won't students be thankful for their grades and less likely to complain?  I tell myself that life is ultimately more important than a C-, that breath trumps G.P.A.  Idealistic, I know.  Hopeful at best.  And yet, the beauty and strength our country has shown in the past few months, between a "superstorm" that crippled us and a school shooting that took those most innocent and close to all of our hearts, has made me believe the best in people.  So, let me hold on to the belief that my students will appreciate life and allow me to appreciate mine.

Reason #2:  I am completely obsessive about my email.  During the semester, I cannot go a day without checking it.  If grades are not submitted, I can't put an away message up on my email for the end of the world because technically, my students might still need me.  I don't consider my semester finished until I enter those grades into the system.   And who wants to check their email during the apocalypse?  My phone didn't even work after the hurricane; I'm not sure what will happen if alien overlords descend onto our planet and make us their slaves.

Reason #3:  I just want to be done!  Let's be real; saying the end of the world is coming tomorrow is just a reason to be done by the 21st of December, quite early when you consider that grades are not even due until 12/27.  This semester has been rewarding on many levels. I have found myself as an academic and am more confident than ever in my ability to help my students reach their goals.  I piloted a new hybrid syllabus and some essay assignments that I think worked quite well and that I can tweak to perfect before the Spring semester.  I offered feedback until my eyes felt like they were bleeding.  And now., it's time to write out those holiday cards (yes, friends and family, you will be getting those around Christmas Eve because that's the way I roll), wrap those gifts (and I really take pride in my wrapping, so that takes some time), bake those cookies and gather with my friends to watch the end of the world.

After all, if the world is going to end, who wants final grades hanging over their heads?  Not this professor.  Count me as finished by tomorrow - and let me know if you survive.

REM - It's the End of the World As We Know It

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Paper Grading Bingo

 I thought we could all use a way to make those final weeks, days and hours of grading a little more entertaining.  Let's play Bingo!  Meradeth of "A Girl's Guide to Graduate School," thank you for sharing!

If you get BINGO, please let everyone know in the comments section!  And feel free to vent; we all love our jobs, but we have to let it out every now and then. :)


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When in Academia...Learn to Appreciate the Good Ones

Recently, someone linked me to a Tumblr page called "When in Academia."  I have to say, it is hilarious.

My personal favorite is the one that points out the face one makes "when the very first word of a student's essay is grammatically incorrect."  The image is Neil Patrick Harris looking utterly and completely disappointed.  He is looking down, shaking his head, voicing all of our frustrations as writing professors.  

We have all been there.  There's that student - the one who comes to office hours and who sends you emails at all times of the day and night, who then submits an essay that is grammatically weak, to say the least, does not follow any of the guidelines that you put on the assignment or went over in class, and is basically the work of a student who doesn't do any of the things previously mentioned.  It's like he never listened to you in the first place, like he is coming to office hours to make up for the fact that during class time he is off in another world, or sleeping, or, apparently, temporarily deceased.  

The fact is, regardless of all of our good intentions, sometimes students just don't listen.  They don't do the reading and they don't talk in class.  I stand in front of the blackboard, talking to myself in a room full of people, hoping that they remember to read the paper assignment before submitting an essay that makes me sad.

So, I learn to appreciate that great class full of students who do talk.  They have done the reading and they have ideas, real ideas, about what the themes in that reading might be.  They not only read the paper assignment, but they follow it to the letter, double spacing and using direct quotations from the text (formatted correctly in MLA).  They, simply, do what they are supposed to do.  And I look like this:

This semester, I have one of those classes.  The students all seem to be friends.  They come in and greet each other with enthusiasm.  They start talking about the literature before class technically begins.  They relate the literature to their own lives and they wonder out loud about what Thornton Wilder meant when he made Emily Webb go back in time to her 12th birthday.  Their essay grades are not exemplary, but they follow my instructions. They listen. They may not be "A" students.  Many of them are not even "B" students. But they come prepared for the work that college demands of them.  And that, my friends, is worth all of the incorrect citations and ignored instructions in the world. 

Mentioned on the Montclair University Website!

Sarah has been mentioned on Montclair State University's First Year Writing Program website.

To read more about the First Year Writing Program, where Sarah is a professor, please visit the above page.  It is an amazing program and a recent recipient of the prestigious CCCC writing certificate of excellence.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New and Improved Website!

Check out my new and improved website!  While visiting, you will find:
  • Poetry
  • Stories
  • Information about my professional services
  • Testimonials 
  • Information about my publications and qualifications
Have a wonderful day!