Friday, December 20, 2019

summer sweetness and homage to 9th grade English teachers

I do realize that on this eve of the Winter Solstice few of us are considering that universe of sweetness known as the watermelon.  But because in our household the boy band One Direction has played a significant role over the last just about 10 years (ie half of my daughter's life) and because former member Harry Styles has just released an album called FINE LINES with a really great song (enjoy below) called "Watermelon Sugar," I have gone to my shelf of forever books to pull out IN WATERMELON SUGAR by Richard Brautigan (1968).


This book was given to me as a present by my 9th grade English teacher at Trinity Episcopal High School (Richmond, VA) in 1978.  He was a bearded corduroyed Earth-shoed Deadhead, and it was he who taught me to write (mostly by having us write, a LOT, and then commenting with radical candor), and he who made me feel seen and heard as a writer.  I hope we all have such a teacher to look back on with fondness and gratitude. [The Internet has rarely failed me, but I have searched this Jeff Harrison many times without any leads.  Let me know if he's your neighbor.]


This strange book, set in a post-apocalyptic commune called iDEATH where rivers run in widths from a half-an-inch to miles, where most things except the tigers may be made of watermelon sugar, where some people do and others don't have a regular name, is full of images and language that flavor all my poetry even 40 years later.  Here was my senior yearbook quote: "Our lives we have carefully constructed from watermelon sugar and then travelled to the length of our dreams, along roads lines with pines and stones."



On this cold dark morning I give thanks for watermelon music, for watermelon words, for watermelon sugar sweetness old and new. I don't know that I could ever go without.




The Poetry Friday round-up is brought to us today by Buffy at her blog. Let's murmurate together as one dark bird!

13 comments:

  1. Wow, what a watermelon lifecycle/circle, and what a high school yearbook quote! I'm sorry you haven't been able to find Jeff Harrison.
    Elena really likes Harry Styles so I have heard the new songs. I like Adore You best, I think, although I like the instrumental at the end of the really long song. (Pretty vague, but Elena would know what I was talking about...)

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  2. Heidi, what an amazing high school quote! Wow! I look forward to listening to the song. I wish you and your family a holiday full of sweetness! xo

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  3. For me it was Mr. Kirkpatrick, 10th grade English--the first person to believe and tell me that I could write, and to take the time to show me how to strengthen my writing. Yikes, I should search the internet and see if I can find him and thank him! Wishing you holidays as sweet as watermelon. (And my yoga teacher brought up Harry Sykes in class this morning, but I have to admit I had no idea of who he was.)

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  4. Feeling seen and heard as a writer - such a gift!

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  5. I hope you find Jeff, too - what a character! My Olivia adores Harry Styles, as well, and I must say that I rather enjoy hearing his musical progress, and especially approve of his choice of idols: Stevie Nicks!

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  6. Heidi, you never fail to make me happy with a visit here. I love the trails your memories make and connections to today. Watermelon sugar. What a fabulous phrase...and that you would make that part of your senior quote in HS. I hope your English Teacher -- wherever he may be -- feels the success of knowing he touched your life in the way he has.

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  7. Thanks for all the watermelon-y goodness this week. Like the Styles song, and remember well reading Brautigan in college. My freshman English prof was the one who showed me the possibilities of my own writing. All it takes is the right educator to set you on your way . . .

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  8. Wow... I did not expect a watermelon theme this week! Bravo for that surprise! Nice tribute to an inspiring teacher... I enjoyed it all. Thanks for this post and best wishes for a peaceful holiday.

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  9. After an inspiring teacher in high school, I had a squelcher in college. Took me a long time to recover from that. Lesson learned -- inspire, don't squelch. Ever.

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  10. I had a teacher like that believe it or not in 6th grade, a left over hippy who had us reading "Catcher in the Rye" The World of Jimmy Breslin" and many other wonderful journeys… Love the watermelon song and your senior year quote, thanks Heidi and Happy Holidays!

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  11. Have I ever told you that your PF posts never cease to put a smile on my face? Or sometimes make me giggle? Yup! Love all of this. Sadly, I didn't have that ONE teacher, but I remember snippets from several. Lovely memories. Cheers! -- Christie

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