Thursday, April 19, 2012

Imaginary Geography (or do I mean landscape?)

When I was young, my sister and I played a game called Good Land and Bad Land. Good Land was on the right side of my grandmother's backyard which had a giant sycamore tree. Bad Land was on the left; it was narrower and had the garage (always a place of potential menace/discomfort). I don't fully remember what happened in this game, except that we would sometimes move from one side of the yard to the other by walking on the grass and whatnot growing in the cracks of the walkway. Both sides had a border of rosebushes. (OK, we used to be Catholic. That probably explains a lot.)

I was thinking about this only because in my class I've been asking students about their good lines and bad lines.I think I have a pretty good eye/ear for this. Unlike my childhood game, the point here is to eradicate Bad Land and live only in the good lines--lines that sing (I'm sorry, they do) exploding our consciousness with their imagistic wildness. Lines that are bold and long and unabstract. Lines that are clipped as if each new phrasing were held in small hands. Lines like diving boards or knives or fragrant combs of honey. Lines that no one else could find the words to say. Lines like ripples in a pool or waves in the ocean. Lines that will not let you alone. They grip you as should each title,each word, each first line, each last. Lines that break you apart and put you together new.

(My sister remembers Good Land and Bad Land as being played at our house on Mapledale as well which could kick off a great discussion of the reliability of past senses [or as we know it--memory].)


  1. I'm sure we played it both places - don't you think?

  2. It is interesting to discover the differences in what I remember of chldhood and what my sisters remember.

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