Thursday, January 24, 2013

Noah St. John, "The Last Mile"

I shared this beautiful spoken word piece with my literature class this morning since recently we were arguing over the question of what "literature" actually is. To a person, all the students agreed that this piece written and performed by a 15 year-old boy is literature. He moved them, he delighted them, and he had something "important" to say--it could even be considered a piece of protest literature, demonstrating that gay marriages are just as much marriages as any other marriage. They got to occupy his shoes for five minutes. We then moved on to some other short pieces in our textbook. The first was Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl." This one some liked, while others didn't. One student said, "It reads like a list." And, that is entirely true. Can a monologue of a list be literature? Maybe. What's in the list? What does the list reveal? Is there anything contradictory in the list? How can the girl be both a fetching, charming woman who'll catch a good man but not be "the slut [she] is bent on becoming?" What does the list say about social expectations regarding women?

What is my job, if not to open doors and invite them to walk through?

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