Saturday, April 19, 2014

An Easter Poem

Discerning the Lord

Ash Wednesday I try,
Walking up for my smudge,
To sense You in the rite--
Sooty crumbles skittering down my nose.

Lenten day by Lenten day
I squint my eyes to see,
In mundane March,
The moments of penitent piety.

Good Friday I shut myself in,
Poring over the story,
Calling up devotion,
Cross-legged on the bed with the Word.

Good Friday noon I find a place
Where still ‘til three
The faithful gather—
Remembering those dark hours.

Have I conjured emotion,
Struck up sadness,
Practiced the presence
Until I feel what I know?

Easter morning I shiver in the dark
With the few faithful,
In this cemetery somewhere,
To re-enact the rising.

But all for naught.
Dust, surrender,
Solitude, sleepiness—
All these are but negations.

While You,
Who fill all in all,
Walk lively among us,
Pour riches down our throats.

You shine, break forth,
Uplift, surround,
Overflow, abide—
Bursting our wineskins in forceful joy.

And suddenly the ashes fly upward,
A gust of real life—
Privations and vigils
Swept up in Your dance.

©2014, Cindy Marsch

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy New Year!

Many things have kept me from this blog for months, but we can all use something new for the New Year. Sometimes that can be a little something to freshen up our academic pursuits, and to encourage that I want to offer a bonus.

It begins with a reward--all existing clients will have 1000 words added to their current evaluation accounts, and those enrolled in courses with Writing Assessment Services can use the bonus for additional exercises within the course or for another kind of writing of their choice. For new clients it's a little incentive to go ahead and sign up for that new evaluation account or a Progymnasmata Tutorial to freshen up your school year.

I am happy to announce that I now have, courtesy of the good folks at the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, a permanent home for a great article written by Amy Kim, "Pro-gym-nas-what?!..." In this piece she details how we worked on the Progymnasmata together in my consulting relationship with The Oaks, a classical Christian school in Spokane, Washington, and how she's implemented these great writing exercises in her classroom over the years. Please find this article on my home page, at Writing Assessment Services.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Silly Poem

George Grant posted on Facebook this evening a quote by G.K. Chesterton:  "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."

Well, I'm up for a challenge, even after being away for a long time!  This is what I posted in reply to G.G.'s post:

A Cheesy Poem

I once buttered up a young miss
By saying her skin was like swiss.
I meant it was silky with cream--
"Holes" was all to her it could seem.
I tried and I tried to do better,
And I likened her hair to a cheddar.
"Greasy" was all that she knew,
So she left me bereft and so bleu.
No! Her hair was as lovely as she,
Not stinky and gooey like brie.
So now I'm a miserable fella,
Sitting here with my nice mozzarella.
Stumble and sputter and wheeze--
You just can't po-et about cheese!

--Cindy Marsch, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Friday Fictioneers, Delayed: "Bluer Than Blue"

(This post is actually from November 29, 2012, but I keep getting spam comments on it, so I'm experimenting with a different way to post it, for posterity.)

Friday Fictioneers is an opportunity to join a community of writers in the challenge of creating a 100-word story from a single picture.*  I just love the color in this week's photo prompt. And that woman with the shopping bag--she had to be in the story, in that sanitized place, all pretty and open and safe.  A passing comment from someone today gave me the kernel of the story, and here we go!

(Image deleted in hopes that that will stop the spam I've been getting on this post!)

Bluer Than Blue

Daniel had to get away, onto the open road. Still his taut teen self inside, grizzled in the beard but long and lean. The Harley was the ticket out of Mediocre, Pennsylvania down to the Magic Kingdom—a zipping roar away from the doughy missus, the disappointing son.  She understood--had a free flight of her own to escape with. They’d decorate for Christmas later.

He rounded a corner in Celebration, Florida, the sky impossibly blue at dusk, lights everywhere. Buzzing from the saddle, swaggering in boots, ready.

She looked right at him, denim up and down—“Daniel, you, too?!”

100 words

*Happy anniversary, Rochelle, our photographer this week!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: "Press Conference"

This is a weird photo prompt, and many of the contributors to Friday Fictioneers have puzzled over it.  Here's what I did with it.  Click the link above to see what the others did with it, and maybe try your own version!

Press Conference

“After a few adjustments we are proud to unveil the Municipal Monument.  As you know,” the Mayor brightly assured us, her hot pink blazer glowing in the noon sun.  “As you know, we wanted to give as many local Artists as possible the opportunity to contribute to the Monument. It is a tribute to our diverse populace, friendly to all.”

I turned to interview one of the contributors, a musky heap of burlap in huaraches, who chuckled, “Yeah, I started a great nude diving into the wall, but they made me change it into a hand. Yeah, that’s me below.”

100 words

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: "Just Like Candy!"

This week's entry into Friday Fictioneers isn't terribly inspired, but it will do. Sometime's it's just like that, you know? Please join us!

Just Like Candy!

“Oh, Sweetie, know what you can do with those?  You can stack them just like this –“  She began rolling the towels into logs and inserting them into the closet according to hue.  “And then we’ll go out here—“ she clomped out into the living room in her cherry-red high heels, thrusting her rear out as she bent from the waist in a calendar-girl pose. “—and fan out these magazines in an in-VI-ting array!”

“But the old batteries in a jar?” I folded my arms into my sweatshirt - Oscar to her Felix.

“Just like candy!” 

--100 words

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Online Book Club: *The Mind of the Maker* Chapter 3

UPDATE:  Well, guess what I saw last night?  Alec Guiness in *The Horse's Mouth,* about a quirky artist. It's kind of a comedy, in that dark sophisticated 1950's/1960's way, with some definite madcap shenanigans (destruction of a beautiful apartment in the name of "art").  But what's applicable to this discussion is one point when the artist regards a mural he's just painted, for which he had all kinds of vision--the raising of Lazarus--and he says something like, "Well, that's not what I had in mind at all."  Where was the problem?  In the Idea, in the Energy, in the Power?

Here's a link to the movie on Amazon Instant Video:


I'm a little discouraged that my last week's post is pretty lonesome, that I'm just talking to myself. [Update: I realize I didn't leave my proper link to last week's post on Cindy R.'s last week's post!  That's fixed now. How embarrassing.]

But to get ahead of myself, Sayers would say I'm a blogger whether anyone's reading my blog or not, or even, praise God, whether I get my blog post written or not!  (See p. 42.)  In any case, I'll plug along. I sometimes feel I can hold on to an idea only long enough to make a quick comment before my I.Q. plunges again.  Maybe it's my age.  In any case, this is another installment in the ongoing project of Ordo-Amoris.  

Sayers tells us that God, complete unto Himself as the "well-spring" is not manifest without a creature to witness the Creation. Makes me think, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?"  That circles back to the poet idea above, from p. 42.  God is Creator eternally, even before we had a Creation.

p. 35:  "Those who [in disputing about God strive to transcend the whole creation] are more mischievously and emptily vain than their fellows." (Augustine)

p. 36  Mathematicians and artists have a way of seeing things that allows them to get outside their environments far enough to be able to describe them (dimensions and things).

p. 39 Sayers says that a work is always consistent with its nature.  In the power, though, what do we do with the critical theory of our time--well, of the last century--that says the work exists unto itself, or only in the mind of the reader, never mind what the author intends?

She talks a lot about how the works exist in the mind of the writer as whole beings well before they begin to be made manifest in the Energy/Activity. But I have experienced having a germ of an idea and then seeing where it might be going as I develop it in writing. I've read of many novelists working that way, too. Would Sayers say they just didn't know everything that was already in their heads before they got it out?   She also says, though, on p. 40, that we must have the Energy/Activity in order to have the idea known to others AND OURSELVES. If it already exists in the mind, why must it have expression on paper in order to exist?  Or is the Energy manifest in our minds before the translation of words on paper?  I get the feeling she's pushing her analogy too far in both directions by changing "Energy" to "Activity" and thus making it more practical and concrete AND saying Power "proceeds from the Idea and the Energy together," very credal language. I feel like my daughter the day she set one foot into a canoe and left the other on the dock and soon fell in the water--the things are drifting apart.

p. 42   IS a poet still a poet if he has no way to express his poetry?  What makes a poet?

p. 43  I don't like the disdain of "men of science."  If they don't behave this way, if they're renaissance men, are they "really" poets, then and not scientists?  On p. 44, she sets forth the idea that science depends on progress, the idea that we're always building and improving, but that art recognizes single geniuses in every age, whose work cannot be progressed beyond or built upon but only added to by later geniuses.  But my husband Glenn did a great paper and talk on Benjamin Franklin a couple of years ago, making the case that he was one of those singular geniuses who had amazing expertise in multiple fields (statesmanship as well as science, for example). Some researcher whose name escapes me has shown how geniuses of different times stack up to one another by virtue of their prominence in their own time and our recognition of them in later time. So Galileo is one, and Newton, and some others.  But Benjamin Franklin is a rare genius who "has it all."  Would Sayers say he's risen above his being a scientist to become a poet, ultimately?

Here's the video of Glenn's talk. :-)  

I feel cranky in my response to Sayers, pressured to finish this chapter when I didn't feel like it, really.  Sorry about that! :-)