The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

2006.01.05 When do we eat?

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I discovered the book “I Am a Pencil” by Sam Swope in the wonderful Bas Bleu catalogue and was charmed by the title and description. Swope is a children’s author who set out to do a 10-day writing workshop with a third grade class of immigrants in Queens in New York City. He had so much fun he turned it into a three year project with the same group of kids. “I Am a Pencil” tells of his experience.

I was going to buy the book as a Christmas present for several budding teachers, but I  interloaned it from another library instead, thinking maybe I should read it first. And good thing, I thought, as I plowed through the preface. It was full of poetry—all the stanzas of Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” interspersed with explanations and commentary from Swope as well as samples of poetry written by his students. He instructed them to write about a tree in as many ways as they could using Stevens’ poem as inspiration.

Those of you with a long memory may recall my aversion to poetry. I wrote about it in a June 23, 1999 column.

I’m not real big on poetry—especially the kind that has layers of meaning and obscure references. I don’t normally seek out poetry when I’m looking for something to read. I’m incompetent when it comes to symbolism and I’m dense when it comes to figuring out the hidden meanings. Just lay it on the line, Lefty. Make it clear and make it easy. That’s what I want to tell poets.

And I wanted to tell Swope I was put off by his opening to a book I was hoping would be inspirational and worthy of gift-giving. I grumbled through the preface until I came to the fifth stanza of Thirteen Ways:

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

Then I had one of those déjà vu experiences. I knew I had had a pleasant encounter with this poem before, but I couldn’t place it. So I just skimmed through the rest of the preface and arrived at the great part:  the rest of the book. Swope recounts his interactions with the kids and the writing process, and the innovative projects he guides them through.

As we packed for a short trip to New York last week, I tossed “I Am a Pencil” in my tote bag along with “Poetry in Motion: 100 poems from the subways and buses” which was on the bookshelf among our N.Y.C. guidebooks. Our niece Janell, who loves poetry, was traveling with us, so I thought she might want to read it in the car.

Perhaps you are wondering why I own such a book if I hate poetry. Well, I love the concept of poetry—especially in public places. I even wrote about it in a column back in 1995. That déjà vu feeling had possessed me so I looked through old columns until I discovered that I had indeed encountered that poem by Wallace Stevens—and on the subway. It is such a kick to be sitting on the train scanning the ads and have your eyes fall on a poem. It’s an unexpected treat, like someone has handed you a square of rich dark chocolate. Or a puzzle that you can’t figure out.

from “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle”

This luscious and impeccable fruit of life
Falls, it appears, of its own weight to earth.
When you were Eve, its acrid juice was sweet,
Untasted, in its heavenly, orchard air. 
An apple serves as well as any skull
To be the book in which to read a round,
And is as excellent, in that it is composed
Of what, like skulls, comes rotting back to ground.
But it excels in this, that as the fruit
Of love, it is a book too mad to read
Before one merely reads to pass the time.

On the number 7 Flushing line into Manhattan we came across that poem twice. And wouldn’t you know it, it was another by Wallace Stevens—a bit eerie because we were reading it as we were traveling through Queens where Swope had taught that other Wallace Stevens poem.

The first time we read it, Janell said she liked it, but I was left wondering, What the heck?

“It’s really rich,” she said.

“It’s really obscure,” I thought.

The second time we came across it she explained what she thought it was all about and it was like a magician revealing a trick. It was just amazing to hear her talk about the images and meanings she saw in the poem. Apples and skulls, rotting fruit and wasted knowledge.

“What I really like is how it incorporates the beginning of mankind and the root of the problem and how we’re still dealing with it. We still deal with same problems now as we did at the beginning,” she said. “We don’t use knowledge properly; we’re wasteful with new ideas and don’t make use of them as we should.”

For her, it brought to mind somebody going to college surrounded by all that knowledge, but not being changed by the experience. They’re just going through the motions of getting an education.

We had seen one other poem in our subway travels, “Communication,” by Alicia Partnoy. It’s more my speed—short and sweet, uncomplicated, light and lively. Here’s an excerpt that pretty much sums up my ineptitude with interpretation.

I am talking to you about poetry

and you say

when do we eat.

– Jan. 5, 2006

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