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

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

2006.01.05 When do we eat?

Written by David Green.


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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