Inside My Pencil
Teaching Poetry in Detroit Public Schools
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|Format: ||Paperback, 184 pages|
|Published In: ||United States, 28 March 2017|
For over twenty years, award-winning short story writer and novelist Peter Markus has made his living teaching creative writing in the Detroit Public Schools. As a teaching artist with Detroit's longest enduring literary non-profit -- InsideOut Literary Arts Project -- Markus has inspired thousands of students to become believers in the power of words, armed with nothing but an ordinary pencil -- the same beat-up, unsharpened pencil Markus has carried with him, story has it, since he was in the third grade. With nods to Pablo Neruda, Mark Strand, T.S. Eliot, and the vital honesty of his own poetic experience, he invites children to explore the dreamscapes of their imaginary worlds, encouraging even the most resistant students to see what magic and wonder awaits them.
About the Author
Peter Markus is the Senior Writer with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project in Detroit. He is the author of the novel Bob, or Man on Boat, as well as several other books of short fiction, among them We Make Mud and The Fish and the Not Fish.
"Markus writes in spare yet poetic language that is simple enough to be read and understood by younger readers. However, adults--especially writers and teachers--willing to see with their hearts as well as their minds will also be rewarded for reading this unique book. An inventive and inspiring memoir from an innovative educator." -Kirkus Reviews "Not only is Markus a wonderfully gifted fiction writer and poet of immense talent, but he is a passionate, dedicated, and generous creative writing teacher of both schoolchildren and adults. In this new inspiring book, Mr. Pete shows that he's a true Detroit original. His working-class roots and sensibilities have combined to create in him a unique literary voice and an incredible heart for teaching and believing in young writers. He has had a major impact on thousands of young lives of Detroit school children, and this new book is his story.... You will enjoy the experience of a great literary journey as a reader, and you will have the rich opportunity to see the joy of creativity in action." -M. L. Liebler, author of I Want to Be Once and Heaven Was Detroit: Detroit Music from Jazz to Hip Hop "Part memoir, part magic, Inside My Pencil is an ode to the human imagination by one of our best excavators of that imagination. Markus leads us on a journey through the classroom, a journey that also swerves through both the mind and heart. ... Read this book. It is a book of wonders, a book 'where anything--no, everything--is possible.'" -Matthew Olzmann, author of Mezzzanines "In a glowing current of interwoven short essays, 'Mr. Pete' carries us into the transformative glow of his classroom, that trap door to the sublime that opens into the magic pencil--a chewed-up, ordinary wand that sparks the spirit behind words, a telescope that allows us, like his visionary Detroit students, to see with a third eye right through the sky's blue into the magic we hold in our own hands. ... In hoping to write an ode to children, Markus failed. Instead, he soared beyond: this book bears witness to a love strong enough to save the world heart by heart; it is a ceaseless testament to the beauty of being alive, an ageless reminder to us all that nothing ever dies and to believe in what can and cannot be seen." --Robert Fanning, author of American Prophet "Markus has handcrafted a moving prime moving primer for the primal crafting of our prime directive. In Inside My Pencil (a memoir, a meditation, a Mercator map projection) Markus makes news and makes the new new again (for his students, for us, for himself) renegotiating that ancient saw about there being nothing new under that old poetic fusion-powered endlessly blissful and basking sun. Here there is a time for everything and that time for you, reader, is now." -Michael Martone, author of Rules of Thumb "Markus helps us say yes to a world where magic and transcendence are still possible. This book reaffirms that any one of us--when led by a teacher like Markus--can baptize a page in light."-John Rybicki, author of We Bed Down Into Water "I read most of Inside My Pencil in one sitting with a smile on my face. It is a gift of spare and resonant language that earns its delights. Markus's syntax, imaginative figurations, and refrains constantly fold in on themselves, creating pockets of density or space. In these pockets the reader is invited to imagine and wonder alongside the lovingly rendered children of Detroit." - Jamaal May, author of Hum "Markus (The Fish and the Not Fish) transports readers into the classroom in the Detroit Public Schools where he has spent over 20 years teaching creative writing as part of the nonprofit InsideOut Literary Arts Project. Markus--or "Mr. Pete," as he's called in his classes--doesn't devote a lot of space to the mechanics of his role or the lesson plans. Instead, he immerses readers in the discourse in the classroom. Markus makes use of the creative license he instills in students; the book is a teacher's guide of sorts but reads like experimental memoir. He demonstrates with his own words how he captivates students through stories and how he gets students to believe in the power of words and imagination, and see beauty in the work of metaphor and simile. Over the course of the book, readers become his students, and even the most cynical will emerge believing a bit more in the magic of creativity." -Publishers Weekly "Markus empowers his students to turn their simple No. 2 pencils into instruments more magical than any wand at Hogwarts."--Booklist Past Praise for Peter Markus Praise for The Fish and the Not Fish "Inventive and inspired, Markus' entire book is built solely of monosyllabic words. Out of this restriction, familiar nouns shape-shift into something between poetry and prose, both grounded and maverick. Here, words stack like solid things, building a new way of seeing and saying." - Interview Magazine "The Fish and the Not Fish is a book that begs to be read out loud. Here in this book is a new kind of speech. Words as stones, as mud, as bricks. Words to make a house with. This is a book that gives us a new way to see and to say how and what the world is, what and how the world is not." -Matt Bell, author of In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods Praise for The Singing Fish Peter Markus' gorgeously spare, riverine fables of brotherly sweetness and violence are hypnotic, haunting, and sublime. --Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way and I Looked Alive There is an obsessive quality about Peter Markus' writing that I am obsessed with and a musicality that I cannot get out of my head. The fish are singing and Peter Markus is too. --Michael Kimball, author of The Way the Family Got Away and How Much of Us There Was There is a whole mythology here, generated privately between two brothers engaged in an always childlike (and for that reason all the more serious) task of creation. Good, Brother is like watching Raymond Roussel and Flannery O'Connor show up to the barn dance wearing hip waders and despite this still managing to outwhirl the best of them." --Brian Evenson, author of Altmann's Tongue Very little occurs in a Peter Markus story that does not involve a fish, mud, a brother, and, usually, a concluding act of brutality. Markus's language is primal, even primitive, but his sentence structure is among the most perplexing and, ultimately, fascinating I have ever encountered. Markus serves up sentence after sentence of startling musicality. These aren't stories in any traditional sense; they are works of a prose stylist with the ear of a poet." --Peter Conners, American Book Review Praise for Bob, or Man on Boat "With spare but magical language, Peter Markus weaves a tale with the currents of a river, a family saga that spins through both the depths and the shallows. In Bob, or Man on Boat, recollections rise from the muddy river bed to be illuminated by starshine on the surface, only to be lost once more in the river mists that mingle with the wind-scattered ashes of a dead man, and finally, to sink again to the bottom. Like the voice of the narrator, Markus uses words that skip across the surface like a stone, but take the reader to the depths of longing and loss, myth and memory." --Pamela Ryder "There is a sense that the reader is part of this story, part of this tale of generations and searching. The reader is Bob. The reader is a fish." -Bookslut "Markus has a remarkable ability to strip life down to its basics, to the point where the metaphors we manufacture as the looking-glass for our existence end up standing in for existence itself. Fish, mud, night and river come to stand in place of family connections as fathers and sons, by giving themselves to fishing, give themselves over to a lone search and to loss. --Brian Evenson Peter Markus, who wrote of brotherhood with rare wisdom and purity of style in the linked stories of The Singing Fish, now trains his extraordinary powers on the heartaching relationship between fathers and sons with even more enchanting results. Bob, or Man on Boat is a marvel of thrillingly limpid prose a profound and unforgettable first novel. --Gary Lutz Praise for Good, Brother "In this spare and simple novel, Markus shapes and reshapes river and mud into a protean world perpetually reasserting itself through rituals that are at once down-home and arcane. There is a whole mythology here, generated privately between two brothers engaged in an always childlike (and for that reason all the more serious) task of creation. Good, Brother is like watching Raymond Roussel and Flannery O'Connor show up to the barn dance wearing hip waders and despite this still managing to outwhirl the best of them." --Brian Evenson, author of Altmann's Tongue "Very little occurs in a Peter Markus story that does not involve a fish, mud, a brother, and, usually, a concluding act of brutality. Markus's language is primal, even primitive, but his sentence structure is among the most perplexing and, ultimately, fascinating I have ever encountered. Markus serves up sentence after sentence of startling musicality. These aren't stories in any traditional sense; they are works of a prose stylist with the ear of a poet." --Peter Conners, American Book Review "In some moments like a compact novel and in others like a series of connected stories, Good, Brother uses the most sophisticated, experimental edges of fiction to tell a story about the grittiest, most primal emotions." --Ross Simonini, Resonance Magazine
21.34 x 13.72 x 1.52 centimetres|
15+ years |