I’m named after my grandfathers: Johann and Juan. My name is Johanna. Throughout my life, I’ve met many Johannas. At my university alone, I know nearly a dozen. It’s led to funny and to confusing situations, but it’s always been something to connect over. On their own, my names are nothing to brag about: Johanna. Gabriela. Hernández. Schäfer. Johanna and Schäfer are common names in Germany, Gabriela and Hernández are typical Peruvian names. Only together are they special. Only together are they me. But – had I been born 50 minutes earlier, my name might have been Paula (find out why at the end of the poem).
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 (10:47 a.m.)
Lydia Davis (1947- ) is a lover of language and an American writer, probably in that order. She’s best known for her minimalist writing style and works of brevity (short stories, flash fiction, and narratives made up of only a couple of lines). One of my favorite prose poems is “A Mown Lawn.” It is literally one-of‑a kind. Well, almost. I think Davis wrote two political pieces, of which “A Mown Lawn” is one. If you aren’t familiar with it, please read it, otherwise this blog might not make sense (see image below).
As some of our loyal readers might recall, my colleague Maria Moss has written several blogs on how to teach poetry, including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost and Haikus. But I’m not like her. To be honest, I’m somewhat leery of the long faces students often make when they hear the word ‘poetry.’ Determined to give it a try, I prepared a lesson that would hopefully help my students appreciate Davis’s poem, engage with the topics, and think about language – the power of language, or should I say, the lack thereof? Anyway, here are my notes:
Off to class. Let’s see how it goes.