Saturday, August 31, 2013

Castilian Spring: Seamus Heaney

This poem arrived in email from The Kenyon Review this morning.

weekend-readsCastalian Spring

Seamus Heaney

Thunderface. Not Zeus’s ire, but hers
Refusing entry, and mine mounting from it.
This one thing I had vowed: to drink the waters
Of the Castalian Spring, to arrogate
That much to myself and be the poet
Under the god Apollo’s giddy cliff—
But the inner water sanctum was roped off
When we arrived. Well then, to hell with that,
And to hell with all who’d stop me, thunderface!
So up the steps then, into the sandstone grottoes,
The seeps and dreeps, the shallow pools, the mosses,
Come from beyond, and come far, with this useless
Anger draining away, on terraces
Where I bowed and mouthed in sweetness and defiance.

Why Admins Need To Rethink Testing 5-Year Olds in Week 1 of School

It pains me to think that in a few brief days, hundreds of five-year-olds will arrive at school and be subjected to tests. No settling in. No learning how to be a part of shiny new communities.  Rather, they will be meeting their teacher or some other adult in one-to-one situations in order for that adult to record how many letters and sounds and numbers each child can identify--as if these matters mattered more than becoming part of a class. The measures could easily and naturally be collected during the first two months of school through observations of children at play--through conversations with children as they handle books and make messages, sing and paint. Through conversation.

I asked one teacher recently why she would have to test all of the kindergarten children in her class beginning in week one and she explained that the new evaluation system of teachers required a baseline measure--one that needed to be done first thing.  Imagine a system to evaluate teachers trumping common sense.

Here are a few reasons why testing 5-year-olds in week one is counterproductive:

  1. Testing children in one-to-one situations prior to establishing classroom routines and procedures makes for a messy school year. The tone set during the opening weeks remains throughout the year.
  2. Learning time is wasted on testing.
  3. Teachers are likely to get false reads about what children new to school know as many children experience those beginning days with a certain amount of fear and anxiety.   
  4. The concept of 'test' may be foreign to children.
  5. There are natural and less intrusive ways to come to name what children know. Observation of children far surpasses assembly lines of kids being tested.

Administrators need to say no to such formal testing during the opening month of school. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Large Loss: Seamus Heaney

Field Notes (M.A. Reilly)
When word came that you had died, so little was left.
I turned to reread your words, to refill the loss with your voice.

Seamus Heaney - Blackberry Picking by poetictouch

A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.
There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seeing Is Not Merely Looking

Puddle  (M.A. Reilly, Augusta, NJ, 2013)

"The question is not what you look at but what you see." - Thoreau

When I return home after traveling, I often spend the first morning out photographing what is local, known, familiar.  After three weeks in Europe, returning home had me itching to try my hand at seeing, not merely looking at the familiar.  With the shifts in time, I knew I would be up early, so I set aside the first few hours in the morning to practice seeing, again.

Patterns (M.A. Reilly, Devon, England, 2013)
After Stonehenge (M.A. Reilly, Amesbury, Wiltshire, 2013)
 I am reminded each time I make images in places new to me, how unfamiliar seeing feels.  I am always looking, not necessarily always seeing and this becomes so clear when I am initially in a new place.  I have to learn its ways. The quality of light is often different.  The geometry of space, unknown and untested.  Nothing baffles me more than cities.   The canyon-like geometry of Manhattan is simply not the definition of city when in Rome, or Florence, or London.  My images made in cities are more about looking, and less about seeing. I just don't see as well in cities.

The land, be it in Italy or England, is always somewhat familiar, regardless of location.  The way light falls across large spaces of curved earth may be different from what I know from home, but there is a familiarity to it nonetheless.  I see it.  I don't merely look at it.

Seeing is story-making. Looking is not.
Settling (M.A. Reilly, Amesbury, Wiltshire, 2013)

Making images is somewhat about line, texture, pattern and color--but more so about the exchange of
energy between the subject and myself.

Words fail me and I wish I could explain it better, but what I understand is that I simply feel the energy arcing between the landscape and myself.

I wonder if similar exchanges of energy hold true for other photographers? Singers? Painters?

Perhaps, you?

Here are a few images I made this morning:

House, Field, and Sunflowers (M.A. Reilly, Augusta, NJ, 2013)

Morning at Lake (M.A. Reilly, Ringwood, NJ, 2013)

Joy (M.A. Reilly, Augusta, NJ, 2013)
Truck (M.A. Reilly, Augusta, NJ, 2013)


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cornish Coast

 A few images made along the Cornish Coast in England...

Pink Hotel (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Harbor (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Pensance, England)

Touch of Pink (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

One Boat (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Bird ((M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Water's Edge (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)
Early Light (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Waves (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Morning Light on Hill (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Sun Setting (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Two (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Fistral Beach, England)
Surfer (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Fistral Beach, England)
Celtic Sea (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

Glow (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Newquay, England)

London Calling

A few Images Made in London...

Big Ben (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)
Storm Coming (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)
Eye (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)
Swing (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)
Independent Book Shop (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)
Interiors (M.A. Reilly, 2013, London, England)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Arno River

On the Arno (M.A. Reilly,  2013,  Florence,  Italy)

A few images from Florence made alongside the Arno River and it's bridges.

Bridge Study  II (M.A. Reilly,  2013,  Florence,  Italy)

Bridge Study  I (M.A. Reilly,  2013,  Florence,  Italy)

Bridge Study  III (M.A. Reilly,  2013,  Florence,  Italy)

Bridge Study  IV (M.A. Reilly,  2013,  Florence,  Italy)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thinking About Story, the CCSS, and Rhizomes

Finger painting by grade 1 children

“Childhood memories are sometimes covered and obscured beneath the things that come later, like childhood toys forgotten at the bottom of a crammed adult closet. But they are never lost for good.” - Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane


I overhear my son say to his grandmother, "The difficulty isn't making the game, the challenge is in developing the idea, the story upon which the game rests. The first is easy, just technical. The story is not."


On a car trip south, we listen to David Sedaris's Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls and Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Listening to each, I think about the primacy of story and the current emphasis in schools governed by the CCSS on informational types of text--as well as reading literature as information. I wonder if these rather arbitrary percentages of text types to be read by age deserve our attention. Is the way to a more a literate public truly achieved by portioning texts in equal amounts for millions of children by grade level?  Does that even make sense?


A rhizome finds its way. So do readers who become life-long ones, not compliant ones.  Perhaps we might be better off ensuring (As best we can) that children learn why and how to read texts rhizomatically.

Tuscany Mornings

What I appreciate so is the range of colors appearing in the landscape each morning in Montepulciano. I hope these images convey some of that wonder.

The Sun is a Star  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepiulciano)

Buildings  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)
Sage  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)
Sunlight  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)

Aqua  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)
Contrasts (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)
A Pole  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)

Settled  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)

The Blues (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)

Cream  (M.A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano)

Scarecrow (M.A. Reilly, 2013, East of Montepulciano)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tuscany in Black and White

 Tuscany is so rich in color, it is challenging to think in black and white.

Buildings at Day Break (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano, IT)

Being There (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano, IT)
Morning Mist Rising (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano, IT)
Every Day (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano, IT)

Watering (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Montepulciano, IT)

No. 6 (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Pienza, IT)
Sunday Best (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Pienza, IT)
Silhouette (M. A. Reilly, 2013, Pienza, IT)