Re: to read or not to read...

Dr. Deborah Martinson (
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 12:30:45 -0600

Perhaps we can look to Hamlet for even more discussion.
Sometimes I want "more matter less art" as Gertrude says to Polonius--and
something more than the self-evident--and lived experience underlying the
Sometimes I want a real point underneath the "words, words, words."
And quite possibly, many of us want the irony of "to thine own self be
true" (Polonius to Laertes) played out less completely--we want presenters
to have the same professionalism they call for, or teach, unlike poor
Polonius who had good words but no right action.
I personally want to "live to tell the story" as Hamlet asks of Horatio.
This means being able to follow the proceedings. On a few I pray "the rest
is silence."
Over the years I have done much better selecting sessions. I try for a
mix: "big names" I respect; roundtables which by their very nature include
discussion; "little names" I respect; topics about which I know little but
think I should; sessions which address the very nature of my writing and
teaching life; sessions working on theoretical dilemmas such as you just
posed--the field as a "body" which moves us, but sometimes seems removed
from the "spirit" of our endeavors--or the politics of language as it
collides with the politics of identity and difference--or the ghosts of
the past demanding present action. Since I think writing is highly
charged, almost erotic in its intensity, I also want some "there there."
(Unlike Phoenix itself.)
We all know how difficult this all is. One of the best things about
presenting at CCCC's is enacting our students' dilemmas in terms of
audience and writer. Last April I wrote a proposal and almost a year later
tried to find what it was I had wanted to do--only to find that I presently
had an interest in the second part of my proposal only, and it kept
insisting I write IT, no matter how much I tried to distance myself from
the rather narrow imperative. I finally just went with the narrow focus,
liked it and knew I wanted "it said;" but I couldn't articulate the point
of it all until awakening at 4 a.m. the morning before the presentation. My
muse she kicked in late!
In all of this, "the readiness is all."



The Margin: