Two brief ‘segnalazioni’:
1.) The ‘Book Club’ project, reading Umberto Eco’s Il nome della rosa together, has reached the ‘eat cakes and chat about the book’ stage. You’re all invited to my place to discuss your reading experience, and the book itself. No, not really. That wouldn’t be practical, and besides, ‘social-distancing’. However, we CAN have a good old chat on the website, where I have now published a Final Comments page, with some discussion questions and an invitation to add your own questions (and comments, obviously.) The previous installments/episodes in the Book Club are linked to from our Literature page. To ‘eat cakes and chat about the book’, click here and scroll down.
2. The -25% Offer on my poems ebook, ‘No Permit’s Required‘, ends soon (Sunday night, probably). Why not buy a copy for the pedant or literary stuffed-shirt in your life, just to irritate them? So you can sit and smirk quietly while their blood pressure rises and they shriek “But it doesn’t even rhyme!” or “This isn’t a proper poem!” Go on, it’ll be fun. ‘No Permit’s Required‘ | Free sample chapter (.pdf)
And talking of which, here’s a final gratuitous poem, one of the last in the ebook (so not in the free sample .pdf). It’s about a child. They’re as common as rats where I live, laughing and shouting while I’m trying to write, kicking their bloody balls about in front of my door… N.b. Anya’s illustration for this one is great, exactly what I had in mind when I wrote it! But you’ll need to buy a copy to see it.
God knows whose
is standing on the bench
outside our door
finger reaching up
to touch the bell
how I’ll react
when he presses it
That button, I tell him
is our last defense
against the Russian army
Anyone from round here
who survives the initial,
knows to drag their maimed
and bleeding body
up onto that bench
you’re standing on right now
just as you’re doing,
and press it
Which will set off
a terrific explosion!
The whole house will go up
all those cars
will be destroyed
and the enemy
will be repelled,
though at a heavy cost
I agree, I add
it’s odd to have such a button
where anyone could press it
even by accident.
But if the Russians come…
jumps down from the bench
and runs to join his mother
So then, on to business. ‘Before, during or after?’
As inspired by conversations about reading Il nome della rosa, and by the experience of writing, publishing, and losing piles of cash on, poems.
Probably I should have had poetry-writing lessons first – I’m sure there must be plenty of poets who need the cash and would be only too willing to teach me. And THEN publish something. And only then lose piles of cash. So the traditional way of doing things.
Do you have to learn Italian first, then read Il nome della rosa? Or learn while you read? Or at the other extreme, read first, then learn after? That was how I did learning Italian. I just bought books and tried to read them. There was no time for Italian lessons, and no money for English-language books (and no Internet in those days.)
Are you beginning to see a pattern?
Arguably there’s no ‘right’ approach to learning, which sounds obvious, but I think it would be fair to say that most people would assume that, actually, there IS.
Think of any learning experience you’ve had, from school, thru taking driving lessons, to learning on the job at work. There was probably a very linear process from ‘not knowing’ to ‘knowing’ via ‘explaining’, ‘paying attention’ and ‘doing tests’.
Recently I ‘taught’ my daughter how to make ‘carbonara’ (here’s a 10-year old video – both my Italian and my cooking have improved since that was filmed.) And to my shame, I basically followed the approach of ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ her how to do it.
But that wasn’t how I learned myself! I wouldn’t have had the patience for it, probably, and would in any case have found something else I preferred to do, rather than being ‘taught’.
Instead, I just tried, and tried again, and kept on trying, family meal after family meal, through two decades, until now, in fact. For to this day, I’m still perfecting my carbonara, and still with no recipe, no instructor, not even a YouTube video.
Which reminds me (and yes, I know, I promised, but this one really is relevant to the point I’m trying to make – read it and you’ll see):
The highlight of my long
but sporadic career as a poet
(a single day when aged eleven
two weeks now at fifty-two)
was when our teacher
Mr Palmer one day announced
that our class would spend the morning
writing poems, and couldn’t go out
in the playground until we’d each
completed at least one
It doesn’t have to rhyme
he reassured us
just write down what you feel
A strange instruction at the time
which lead to lots of head-scratching
After some minutes before
a blank sheet of A4
some silly idea
probably copied from
something I’d seen on TV
came spurting from my pencil lead:
half a dozen verses in dramatic style
I wish I had them still
Later, I was called to the stage
to read aloud at assembly
The headmaster introduced me:
has written a poem
Famous for two minutes,
a long hiatus
I’m off to apologise to my daughter now – for having ‘taught’ her how to do something, rather than, as described above, giving her the opportunity to learn how to do it for herself, as I did.
Book Club ‘Final Comments’ | ‘No Permit’s Required‘ – offer ends Sunday night!
Thanks to the generous people who have donated to EasyItalianNews.com, which emails thrice-weekly bulletins of ‘easy’ Italian news to nearly six thousand people around the world, and keeps most of my family in ‘Amazon money’.
My wife, Stefi, manages the writers and edits their work, eldest daughter Sofia chooses the pictures for each edition and formats the webpage, and son Tom does the audio recording and wastes his wages on goodness knows what.
I’m the marketing department, as you might have guessed!
Subscribing is free. Donations are welcome. Or just go read/listen.