The Hippocratic Oath of Writing and Other Perspectives from Steve Almond

From This Won't Take But a Minute, HoneyEver since Harvard Bookstore started printing it, I’d been meaning to read Steve Almond’s chapbook/mini-book This Won’t Take But a Minute, Honey, and a few years later (after acquiring a copy from Steve Almond himself for a not unreasonable price paid in cash), I finally did. It’s a very readable, compact collection of flash fiction and views on writing, with the latter severely grabbing my attention with pithy, punchy perspectives. Though often stated with an air of certainty, authority or almost sarcastic sagacity, there’s almost a challenge implicit (then finally explicit) in these perspectives/pieces of advice—a dare to one up what Steve Almond stated, and the consideration or even debate that this work may provoke can be valuable to a variety of writers and readers.

Here’s one idea I wound up with after the chapbook ran its course.

Steve Almond’s “Hippocratic Oath of Writing” (shown below) led me to consider a potential Hippocratic Oath of Teaching: Never confuse the student, in the end. I think learning involves a degree of confusion, of exposing and messing with knowledge gaps, to borrow from Made to Stick. But confusion in the service of understanding. By the end of a topic discussion, semester, college, whatever, a student should not leave confused about an essential truth their teachers/mentors/facilitators have been entrusted with guiding them to. For those of us in education, Never confuse the student, in the end, that is a stupendous charge, and while we can’t ever fully ensure that, it’s an imperative that is essential, always posing the critical question to us as we’re trying to explain something: could this be clearer?

Looks like you can still get this book from the Harvard Bookstore, but if you can get one from Steve Almond himself, that will make for a much more memorable experience.

Totally Smitten: Paige Turner, you are artistically adorable

paige turner, licenseWhile in the Harvard Bookstore last week, I spotted Page by Paige and after a couple minutes of browsing knew this was one graphic novel I had to curl up with in bed or in a lounge chair.

The graphic novel takes the form of entries in Paige’s sketchbook which contain almost magical depictions of her thoughts and feelings interspersed with a more traditional narrative structure of sequential panels that follow Paige on her own (in a museum, on the metro) and with her new band of Brooklyn friends (going to open mics, putting smiley face on tulips). The honesty of Paige’s uncertainty is rendered strikingly and poetically by the unique style of this graphic novel.

So far, this is the best graphic novel I’ve read this year!

Graphic Novel Mini-Binge

During my last trip to the Harvard Bookstore, I had a hard time pulling myself away from the graphic novels section, especially after reading The Crackle of the Frost, following an NPR recommendation. I ended up leaving with The Nao of Brown and Tune: Book 1, Vanishing Point, though I would have preferred to buy a bunch more had my budget allowed. Each of these have a compelling stories told with voices that when complemented by the excellent artwork really pull you into the world of the characters circumstances and thoughts.

Graphic Novels I've Been Reading

It’s a great time for graphic novels. This genre/medium is actively expanding an already fantastic range of styles and subject matter. I can’t wait to see what new titles come out in 2013!