Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spoon River Middle School

In July 2000 I'd been retired from the Aurora Schools for about three and a half years.  Since my retirement day in mid-January 1997, I'd been working, pretty much full time, on my YA biography of Mary Shelley, but I'd also started another project--a YA book that I was calling Spoon River Middle School.  (Hmmmm, I wonder where I got that idea?)

For those of you who were absent that day (those days?) from English class, Spoon River Anthology, 1915, was an effort by poet Edgar Lee Masters (1868-1950), who grew up in a couple of small Illinois towns.  Later, he created some characters for a fictional town (Spoon River), then wrote poetic monologues and epitaphs for them.  The whole thing's online now, in more than one place--here's a Link to one of them.  (There is an actual river named the Spoon in Illinois, by the way.)

(Confession: The ten years I taught at WRA I did not teach Masters ... shame on me.  Some of my colleagues did, though.)

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to assemble a group of middle school voices and hear what they had to say--not post mortem but as their school year was progressing.  And so I created some characters and turned them loose to write poems, essays, stories, notes to one another, texts, etc.   The project grew, slowly, to about 100 pages, but then I decided to return to the classroom in the fall of 2001, and Spoon River MS went on my shelf alongside other unfinished and/or unwanted projects.

Joyce asked me about it the other day, and I realized I'd pretty much forgotten all about it.  But I looked on that sagging shelf--and there it was, the typescript.  (Better yet: I discovered I still had the computer file ... whew!)  I read through the material again, sort of liked some of it, and thought it would be fun to serialize it on this blog, just as I recently did The Papers of Victoria Frankenstein.  I'll fuss and edit as I go--and, maybe, when it's over, if I still like it, I'll put it up on Kindle Direct and make people pay for it.  Maybe not.

So ... beginning Monday, I'm going to post portions of it on DawnReader every M-W-F for a while.  Some of the characters speak only once; some return; some are involved with other characters, too.  The pieces generally speak for themselves ... but if I anticipate a problem, I'll append a little note at the beginning to explain a little.

And maybe, after a while, I'll pull the plug, put it back on the shelf.  Forget about it again ... ?

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