A person made of water, walking along the boulevard after a late night out*

I am sitting in the library waiting for Erik’s class to get out. The library closes at eleven and boy is it empty in here. I almost have to turn my head around as far as it will go on my neck before I see another face. Well, that’s a bit of a lie — it’s true if I ignore the guy sitting diagonally across from me on my right.

We had a guest teacher today in picture-book class, Vanessa Ragland, who is a poet and playwright and is strikingly gorgeous to boot. Some of you may already know that there are precious few redheads I don’t find attractive, but in Vanessa’s case I don’t think that’s it. She’s charming and charmingly dressed, and she has the most delightful voice. The voice itself would do just fine, but it’s the habit she has of dropping it way down to the bottom of her register to punctuate whatever she’s saying, that I find so enchanting. That deepened voice belongs to a cartoon character who speaks everything in exaggerated tones, but this character only drops in occasionally when extra punctuation is needed. It’s very wonderfully silly and I got to enjoy it all evening. It goes like this: “When you’re writing a poem or a children’s book you need to think about the…” — voice drops several registers and becomes slightly cartoony — “imaaage” — returns to normal — “you’re creating for your readers.” I can’t audiopost this because I’m in the library, but it was just a delight to listen to her speak.

Well, aside from Vanessa’s obvious physical charms, she was also a great writing teacher, and we all got a lot out of her guest lesson. Our regular teacher, Barney, likes to focus on drawing, which you know I’m loving, but it’s hard to have a really intensive writing class and get in some sketching at the same time. So we had writing immersion today. We read some beautiful work by twentieth-century French poets, and attempted to tap into our sensory selves with our writing exercises. It worked.

On a day-to-day basis I don’t really understand or appreciate poetry, but every now and then, in the right setting, certain poems manage to work their magic on me. I’ve felt it before in high school English classes, with Walt Whitman, or in freshman English at Berkeley, with Yeats, and tonight those French poets really transported me to different lands. I’m thinking I might just need to check out poetry more often, see if I can bring on that magic on my own.

*One of the lines I produced this evening in one of our writing exercises. The task was to describe a nighttime sound without saying what it was. The sound: our shower, dripping, when Erik forgets to turn it off all the way.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com. Hey cool! Vanessa Ragland now co-hosts a podcast series!]

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