From my senior year English journal, one of the poems I wrote, which seems appropriate because of my previous post about my needlepoint canvas. Although I never gave it a title, I do now. It is as follows:
life is a tapestry
part planned, part not
some of it orderly
some of it, not.
part of life is stitched
part of it readable
part of it blank,
everyone has a tapestry
everyone must stitch it,
stitch by stitch
the same stitches are ripped out,
bit by bit.
i stitch my canvas every day
hoping to add the right stitches,
taking out what may
be wrong, and trying to make my
tapestry, my life, turn out the right way.
Nancy Brady, April 1973
Some background: Mrs. Callahan, our class’s senior English literature teacher, required us to write a journal entry every week throughout the second semester. (The idea of this was based on some English writer who wrote a journal; I don’t remember now who it was.) She left it open-ended in that we could write whatever we wanted. If we wanted to make it a diary, we could. Short stories, poems, rants, you-name-it ruled the day. On Friday, though, it had to be handed in to her for grading. I know when she assigned it to us, many of the class groaned. There were weeks when I was writing something, anything hurriedly to turn in; other times, the words seemed to flow. As such, my journal was all over the place, too.
In retrospect, for me, this was transformative. While I had written a few poems previously, I rarely shared them with anyone. Now, weekly, I got feedback from her. Sometimes it was just a check mark to indicate she had read it, but most times, there was a comment about my writing. Her comments were really affirming, and I have never stopped writing. I suspect that other classmates may have been similarly affected (Kevin, are you editing your memoir?). It is only in the last couple years that I realize that she had to read not only my rambling* every week, but everyone’s in our class. Granted, we were a relatively small class of eighty-one students, but still to have read and commented on each person’s writing week after week. Wow!
* I was in an e.e. cummings mode during this time; I never capitalized anything (hence no capitals in the above poem), and I am sure that drove her crazy.