One thing I want to instill in my students is the ability to do small, basic things adults either wish they could do or take for granted. No longer are children taught to sew on a button, change the oil in a car or cook an omelet. Surrounded by DIY emporiums like Home Depot and the like, many students and their parents can hardly cook a meal or two that does not come from a box or can.
There are good reasons for this, of course, but students should feel like they CAN do things. It is not about knowing how to bake bread, but feeling that they can if they wish and then becoming very good at it. No fear.
So, I am teaching my students how to make an omelet the Julia Child way, tie some basic knots and sweat a copper pipe. We shall see.
In looking for a poem about such a simple idea, I was at a loss. I stumbled upon Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons” on a sewing search. This is part of a larger piece, “Objects”. It is not clear if it is an excerpt of that larger piece, or if it can stand alone. Indeed, it is unclear if the entire “Objects” section can stand alone.
Who cares? Ms. Stein would have and would not have, so here we have it. I like the absurd nature of such poems, and find that the kids eat it up. Does it fit my needs? Perhaps. No. Well, like “Why I Am Not a Painter” by Frank O’Hara; it’s still there even if not obvious. So, yes.
I teach about small things. Those things we miss in our daily hustle and bustle. So much so, that we expect broad descriptions which make sense yet fail to capture what is being described. “That couch is black.” Blah. That was Stein’s purpose in writing this; to move beyond the dictionary, which had become ineffectual (in her mind). So, it is my theme.
At least its interesting.
A cause and no curve, a cause and loud enough, a cause and extra a loud clash and an extra wagon, a sign of extra, a sac a small sac and an established color and cunning, a slender grey and no ribbon, this means a loss a great loss a restitution.