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Episode 111…

It just sounds cool.  Episode 111.  And it was cool to be a part of the DTLT Today line-up.  My thanks to Jim Groom for a great conversation and for the thought-provoking discussions in our Faculty Initiative classes.  Every time I visit the DTLT center I leave there feeling invincible.  As if I’ve landed my first backside method all over again.  Or I’m ten years old again, and it’s Halloween, and my mother doesn’t care that I’ve already shredded an old pair of corduroys, painted most of my body green, and am leaving the house that way, shirtless and shoeless, one hand clutching a pillowcase for the candy and another pounding my chest, yelling with pure joy into the freezing night air.

lou ferrigno


At the beginning of our last Faculty Initiative class, Jim G. and I started reminiscing about how we both used to skate (skateboard) and how this one activity, in many ways, had helped to define our previous/younger selves.  We quickly burned through a long list of pro skaters’ names and the “sick” tricks they were most known for; to put it simply, we were “stoked” (or I was, at least).

Since we’d both made references to having read (diligently) Thrasher Magazine, and since this week’s reading focused on digital scholarship, I decided I’d go in search of a specific Thrasher issue: coverage of when the West Coast pros came to the East Coast and skated the infamous ramp at Mt. Trashmore (Virginia Beach, VA).

So here it is, the August 1986 issue, in all of its glory:

(After reading again one of the articles, I was reminded of the City of Virginia Beach’s outlawing of skateboarding.  As one might expect, this policy created a considerable amount of tension between the city’s youth/skaters and the VB police department.  Not to mention the defacement of municipal signs and the like with the ubiquitous sticker “Skateboarding Is Not A Crime.”)

And here are many of those same pros 27 years later:



“Serendipitous Encounter”

Chuck Frey’s article (on Howard Rheingold) mentions inviting the “serendipitous encounter.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Something wonderful happens, I think, when we remain open to possibilities, and the PLN model allows for not only one’s initial framework of interests, but the “cultivating” of an evolving one/aesthetic as well.  It seems to me that the successful model is one centered on an individual utilizing it to refine their ability to “maneuver” within various social media, creating more frequent opportunities of “serendipitous encounters.”  I’m reminded here of Czeslaw Milosz’s lines on poetry, from his poem “Ars Poetica?”:

“The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.”




(I love his eyebrows.)

Augmented reality

In one of my Intro to Creative Writing classes, I mentioned my interest in wanting to create campus art projects/installations.  For one such project, I’m imagining the students taking a line of poetry or prose (whether it’s something they’ve written or something that’s well known, etc.) and printing that line on a piece of transparency paper.  The transparency can be cut and taped to the end of a paper “viewer”…some kind of makeshift View-Master device…so that when someone looks through the “viewer,” whatever they see will be imbued with this line of poetry/prose.  Now, what if these little devices were left on tables around the campus, just for a day, say, so that curious students could look through them and discover the text in the sky or on the sidewalk that leads up to the building where they’ve been taking classes for the past few years (yet unaware that the words had been hidden all this time)?  I was even thinking the paper viewers could then be gathered up and repurposed as containers to grow seedlings in the Spring (yes, I miss my garden).

I very much want to find ways to embrace the presence of fragmentation (images as well as text), rather than bemoan its existence.  One such way, I thought, would be to incorporate a virtual component.  I discussed this idea with Zach Whalen, ELC’s in-house Digital Media professor/genius, and he mentioned “augmented reality” apps.  So now the door is opening wider.

There seems to be a way to blend traditional forms (I’m thinking here of murals, such as The Wall Poems of Charlotte project, incorporating poems into “public” space)

charlotte wall poems

and nontraditional forms (apps).


Perhaps Scrimshaw Cinema can allow for those moments where forms and various media intersect?  I would love for other teachers of creative writing to incorporate their own projects, to share what it is they’ve envisioned and, more importantly, have enacted.  In each of these projects, the human component, via the translation of the various threads, will ultimately be the shifting interstitial goop.  I write this with all due respect, of course.

The idea

My goal is to launch (eventually) Scrimshaw Cinema.  I envision the site as being a potash of poem and prose fragments, with a mixture of supplemental multimedia files thrown in for good measure.  It’ll be a hash of sorts.  It might not work.  But that’s not important to me right now.  Right now, it’s the idea that’s important.  And I’m imagining the site as a collection of narratives (possibly “failed” narratives), all from various genres.  There is already a wonderful site that features “poem videos”  (MotionPoems).  What I’m picturing, though, is something akin to the loads of broken shells you might find on the north end beaches of the Outer Banks (like Corolla).


I want Scrimshaw Cinema to be a site that’ll hurt your feet at first.  Maybe.  You walk onto it, or through it, and the collection offers connections.  Or maybe the entire thing will simply become an “Island of Misfit Toys” – a place where fragments of narrative (images, lines, etc.) wait for a viewer/reader/caretaker/docent.  As you can see, I don’t know what I really want it to be just yet.  I want it to have a good life, I suppose.  I want to teach it some things and have it teach me some things.  I want it, at its core, to be both reverent and irreverent.