We met Miriam Toews at a reading in Hamburg on March 26, 2019. Toews was on a book tour to promote the German translation of her seventh novel, Women Talking. The novel is based on very disturbing events that took place between 2005 and 2008 in Bolivia. The German version, Die Aussprache, was published by Hoffmann und Campe in 2018. For her novel, A Complicated Kindness (2004), Miriam Toews won Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, the Governor General’s Award. Since Toews will not be physically present at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 to represent Canada, this year’s guest of honor, this interview will hopefully help tie us over until her next visit to Germany.
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.