Posts Tagged ‘donald hall’

According to the World Aids Campaign: More than two million AIDS related deaths were reported globally in 2008; two million children under the age of 15 now live with HIV. New figures released by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS estimate the number of new HIV infections have declined each year by about 17% from 2001 to 2008, but for every five people infected, only two start treatment.

The numbers remain high. Protect yourself and help others. I strongly believe that through comprehensive safer sex classes in the schools, young people will learn how to better protect and care for themselves. We cannot teach abstinence and expect our children to be safe. 

We often return to art on December 1st. I look forward to hearing the poet Donald Hall talk and read his poetry at the University of Michigan Museum of Art tonight.

You might be interested in listening to this piece from NPR in 2006: Tory Dent’s Poetry on Life with AIDS. Tory Dent wrote poetry about the experience of living with AIDS, most famously in her collection HIV, Mon Amour. She was 47 when she died after being HIV-positive for 17 years. On the website, you can read sections of from Dent’s the title poem of her recently released collection, Black Milk.

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Donald Hall

I am very much looking forward to Donald Hall’s reading at the University of Michigan on Dec. 1st.

I’ve been reading his memoir Unpacking the Boxes and want to share what he wrote about teaching composition at the University of Michigan.


When I took the Michigan job, I made it a condition that I teach no creative writing. Every term the department gave me a section of freshman composition. It is the hardest class to teach. Twenty students are twenty different sets of difficulty and the difficulty is only partly with writing. My freshmen were away from home for the first time – few came from boarding schools – and struggled with loneliness and liberty. In their essays they expressed or evaded their confusions. Language explains us to ourselves and conceals us from ourselves. Teaching prose style became exploration of the psyche, and I went home from conferences and office hours vibrating with the discomfort and distress of my composition students. (There were contrary elations. When a boy from a northern town suddenly brightens up and understands, or a girl from a high school in suburban Detroit takes first, the hard class becomes satisfying.) Eventually debilitated by teaching composition, I volunteered to teach creative writing. To my surprise I liked it – one class a year, ten or twelve people. I could choose the students after checking out their work, and take only those with some facility.


Thanks, Donald Hall. I’ll try to remember these lines the next time someone says, “Oh, you just teach composition?”



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