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Kimberly Jean Smith's Blog

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Painted tin hearts arranged on blue surface
"It’s important you spend time making sure your ‘weakest’ students feel most welcome.”––Andy Couturier, author of Writing Open the Mind and A Different Kind of Luxury Teaching can be a lonely job. In any given California Community College writing classroom there are roughly 30 students but only one...
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Flowers becoming clouds.
“Lower standards. Let the writing begin!”––Mary Lastra, Writer and Teacher   I was first introduced to the benefits of a rigorous, disciplined approach to freewriting by Peter Elbow in his book Everyone Can Write. Freewriting: seemingly the most undisciplined and least rigorous way to approach...
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The wing of an airplane hovers over sky.
“On flights from the west coast to the east, pilots spend about 90 percent of their time off course. The rest of their time is spent making small corrections.” Luis Garza, Dance Teacher   Sometime ago, I resigned myself to the fact that I had never gained a vital life skill: how to learn...
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A small cloud floats above a desert landscape bisected by a dirt road.
“Without my parents here, it was a place of broken beauty.”—Reyna Grande The Distance Between Us: A Memoir I came across The Distance Between Us: A Memoir, by Reyna Grande, because I thought it might be a good choice for students in my community college classroom. I therefore sighed a little upon...
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The wrinkled upper corner of a form rejection letter.
“Naturally he is a failed writer.”––Roberto Bolaño “Henri Simon Leprince”   Maybe I didn’t get held enough as a child, but every rejection my writing receives generates depths of unpleasant emotion: anger; embarrassment; shame. I become bereft in an entirely childish way. It starts with a pain...
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Together a couple glide across a wooden floor.
“It seems right for me to say here that I come to this dancehall to see the monsters, I know of no other place where you can see so many of them at once.”  Julio Cortázar “The Gates of Heaven”                   Someone invites themselves into your...
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A plastic figurine wearing a tiny graduation cap and gown stares at his plastic teacher, standing at a tiny lecturn.
“The first thing I do when I meet a group of new students is…explain that if the students fail they’re to blame me. Then they laugh, and relax, and I explain that really it’s obvious that they should blame me, since I’m supposed to be the expert.”––Keith Johnstone “Notes on Myself”   The story...
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Looking down a steep and twisty staircase.
“[O]ne never knows if he is responsible for what he writes (if there is a subject behind the language); for the very being of writing (the meaning of the labor that constitutes it) is to keep the question Who is speaking? from ever being answered.”--Roland Barthes S/Z (italics his)   Sitting...
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A family photograph sits on a shelf.
“The problem of our relationships with other human beings lies at the center of our life: as soon as we become aware of this––that is, as soon as we clearly see it as a problem and no longer as the muddle of unhappiness, we start to look for its origins, and to reconstruct its course throughout our...
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Pink roses––their edges brown and curled.
“Nobody ever gave me the answer I wanted. Nobody ever said, ‘Oh, so beautiful.’” ––Ottessa Moshfegh “Malibu”   In the last few months, I’ve read three stories by Ottessa Moshfegh and Sheila Heti’s novel How Should a Person Be? Each amazed and left me a little terrified. No one, I think, will...
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A boy enters the sea.
“The sea moved forward and back with all these possibilities, and all of them were true. Yet it didn’t grow tired of itself the way I did. Why not?”––Sheila Heti How Should a Person Be   One of the most difficult things writers face is a blank page. The trick, for me, is to stay ahead of...
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Struggling to open the urn
“Monterey is the best place in the nation to view a variety of marine mammals and seabirds.”--From the Monterey Bay Whale Watch website   My mother, brother, and I were too overcome with fatigue at the time of my father’s death to plan a memorial. His ashes sat on a desk in my mother’s bedroom...
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