Always making lists. We’ve made it on to another list. This one is important to me, as it is the SF Bay Area Literary Map, as per the San Francisco Chronicle. You can check it out here. I am grateful for this, and also am hyper-aware that there are always inner workings; I was thinking of Stephanie Young’s Bay Poetics anthology, and the criticisms I heard upon its release. So-and-so was not included, this was a coterie of poets, et al. I thought this again, in fact, I’ve been bracing myself for others’ responses to this Bay Area Literary Map.
Speaking of list. I’ve added Lysley Tenorio’s Monstress to my Fil Am Lit syllabi for next semester. Anyway. Something I have been thinking, as I’ve been reading friends’ FB posts re: teaching. What happens when something is really important to you, but WTH, it’s so not important to your students. This came up when I was attempting to teach Hip-hop last semester, and it struck me how uninteresting it must have seemed, my talking about found materials, remix, public versus private property, public art, collaborative art, palimpsest. Mind you, as a working artist, these things are always important to me in both active creative process and in principle. And for sure, I begin every semester telling students where I come from, what I bring to the classroom — the POV of a working artist, who finds so much value in handling creative process, aesthetic, linguistic, tonal choices, and what we learn from these.
So then what happens when what’s important to you does not register with your students. I thought about nixing the whole Hip-hop unit, but I am encouraged to try again. I have found that when there’s something I believe should be important to my students, but that it’s barely registering or that I am encountering resistance, it’s become very fruitful to phrase everything in the form of airtight/non-open questions (i.e. you can’t just say yes/no and because I think so because that’s my own gut feeling and uncritically unexamined experience), and ask them to cite from the texts etc. when trying to refute me and my claims. This takes away the imperative to be pushy. I ask, “why do these artists think such-and-such is important,” as evidenced by what we see in their work.
Anyway. That’s my dos centavos for this morning. Off to work.