Breadcrumbs Lead Us Back, But Not Forward

My super collaborative buddy, Kevin Hodgson, and I have been sharing work inside of Hypothes.is.  We have been exploring  the theme of  gratefulness inside of some truly inspiring poetry from the anthology,  Poems of Gratitude.

The gist of the project is this:

  1. Find a poem in the anthology that is online somewhere.
  2. Use Hypothes.is to annotate the poem any way you wish.
  3.        Make sure you tag your notes with #gratefulpoems
  4. See what happens in the margins.

And what happened this time was response, understanding, adding to, summing up, analysis, and, mostly, riffing and creating.  I have written more poetry and better poetry and had more fun with this single project than almost any other in the last year, thanks to Kevin’s most excellent sharing.

Two leads from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure play air guitar
Dogtrax and Tellio’s Most Excellent Adventures

Here is an example from this morning.

An interesting observation:  in writing out loud about this collaboration, the breadcrumbs only flow one way.  What I mean by this is that I can look back and tell you how this particular piece was created, but I could not tell you how a creative piece might emerge from the initial set of conditions.

Here are the initial conditions

  • Kevin and I both agreed to share poems of gratitude.
  • Kevin and I both agreed to annotate using Hypothes.is and the hashtag #gratefulpoems.
  • Kevin and I both have a history of annotating via Hypothes.is.
  • Kevin and I both have a very broad definitions of what annotation means.  In other words it includes text, image, gifs, and videos as a possible means of response.

Predicting with any particularity what would follow was impossible.  That fits with complexity theory as I understand it in its simplest terms.  The zeega above was only an indirect result of this incomplete set of initial conditions.

You can follow how the zeega came to be (Zeega<——-Soundtrap file on Soundcloud<—–Mastodon sharing with Algot Runeman<—–Hypothes.is poem annotated, call and response in the margins<——and all the initiating conditions listed above.

You will notice that the arrow of time goes backward above and into the past.  As a teacher I often think that I can reverse engineer this improvised lesson plan into a functioning piece of the gears of the curriculum.  But this kind of thinking just doesn’t work.  You cannot imagine the breadcrumbs forward in this rigid, curricularized manner.  Or I can’t.  What arises from the tacit knowledge and experience that Kevin and I share in our networked worlds are too complex.  We could predict that something interesting and worth doing might arise, but not what would arise.  I could not have said, “You know what? I think that this project will end up in a very interesting zeega that rose up from some Hypothes.is annotations.”  That’s not a failure of the imagination, but rather that, as Hamlet said to Horation, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”  It is dreams created that I want. Dreams made flesh.

Any system or institution that does not explicitly acknowledge this is, as far as I am concerned, a failed system.  Complexity demands improvisation, play, and the capacity to acknowledge failures both large and small in ways that allow for instructional changes in course and for personal changes in course on the fly.

 

 

Why I Eat Nothing on Thanksgiving Day

Why I Eat Nothing on Thanksgiving Day

The hunters give
thanks
the only way 
they know:
    

    Blammity 

    Blammity

    Blam

    Blam

    Blam

On Thanksgiving Day.

What do the deer give thanks for?
And the gun?
And the bullets?
Do they all thank the barrel
and the hammer
and the powder?
The hunters give
thanks
the only way 
they know:
    

    Blammity 

    Blammity

    Blam

    Blam

    Blam

On Thanksgiving Day.

The quiet thanks the ‘blam’.
The violation thanks the flesh.
The vulture thanks the offal remains
And round and round the thanking goes

Blammity 

Blammity

Blam

Blam

Blam

On Thanksgiving Day.

The deer’s dead eyes
thank the nothingness
that springs from the bullet’s thanks
that rifled through the air
who in turn is grateful for
its having passed
and all goes back 
to the mind 
that thanks the world
the only way it can.

Blammity 

    Blammity

    Blam

    Blam

    Blam

On Thanksgiving Day.

 

Thank you, hunter,
on this Thanksgiving Day.
Thanks for the death and doneness
that gives you
so 
very 
much.
I give you thanks. 
Bitter, 
wretched
tasty 
thanks 
from the bottom of my 

 

 

Blammity 

 

    Blammity

    Blam

    Blam

    Blam

On our Thanksgiving Day.

B Gr8full

A new book, Poems of Gratitude edited by Emily Fragos, recently floated across my RSS reader.  Sometimes these collections are just the same old shuck and jive poems regurgitated to make a quick buck, but this one isn’t. So many reasons to be grateful.

Below you can see the Table of Contents for the collection:

While there are generous helpings of old poetry war horses here, I found this counterintuitive poem about praise and gratefulness compelling and from a poet I was utterly unfamiliar with, Adam Zagajewski.

This brings me to my purpose in this post. I am trying to create a ‘gratefulness’ project using Hypothes.is and the tag, #gratefulpoems.  You can annotate this poem above using Hypothes.is.  If you use the #gratefulpoems hashtag then you can find all of the gratefulness at this link in Hypothes.is.  I hope folks take that grateful outpouring and remix and mashup even further.

I am thinking that folks might use this Table of Contents embedded above as a jumping off point to share more of the poems in Hypothes.is  so that we can create a rhizomass, a great tangle of poems with gratefulness at their beating heart.  The responses to the poem will be what they will be, but I suspect they will be powerfully connected, evoking a ripple outward.

American Thanksgiving is, of course, the undercurrent that drives me, but also American complicity in making the world a less than thankful place in Yemen and Syria and the thousand other anthills we are kicking in the world.  I want a countervailing American force of positive energy.  Naive, yes. Then let me naive.  Join in. Be grateful. Let that energy break over the swamp and cleanse it and you for the holidays at least.

Here is poem I wrote in the spirit of gratefulness.