Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shift Happens

This is some amazing information currently journeying through the education community as we try to meet the needs of 21st century students. I took this from a video by Karl Fisch on www.teachertube.com. There is much more if you want to look it up - it's called - Did You Know?

Did you know ? Sometimes size does matter. . .

If you're one in a million in China - there are 1300 like you.

In India there are 1,100 just like you.

The 25% of the population in China with the highest IQ's is greater than the total population of North America. In India it's the top 28 - translation for teachers - they have more honors kids than we have kids.

Did you know that China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world?

If you took every single job in the US today and shipped it to China it would still have a labor surplus.

During the course of this presentation:
60 babies will be born in the US.
244 will be born in China.
351 will be born in India.

The US Department of Labor estimates that today's learners will have 10-14 jobs by age 38. One out of 4 workers today is working for a company for whom they have been employed less than one year. More than 1 out of 2 are working for a company for whom they have worked less than 5 years.

According to former Secretary of Education Richard Riley the top 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2010 didn't exist in 2004.

We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist - using technologies that haven't yet been invented - in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

The US is 20th in the world in broadband Internet penetration (Luxembourg just passed us).

There are over 106 million registered users of MySpace (Sept. 2006). If MySpace were a country it would be the 11th largest in the world (between Japan and Mexico). The average MySpace page is visited 30 times a day.

We live in exponential times:
There are over 2.7 billion searches performed on Google each month.
The number of text messages sent and received every day exceeds the population of the planet.
There are about 540,000 words in the English language - about 5 times as many as during Shakespeare's time.
More than 3000 books are published daily.
It is estimated that a week's worth of New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.

Predictions are that by 2049 a $1000 computer will exceed the capabilities of the human race.

Today's 21 year olds have:
watched 20,000 hours of television
played 10,000 hours of video games
talked 10,000 hours on the phone
sent or received 250,000 emails or instant messages.

Nintendo invested more than $140 million in research and development in 2002 alone. The US Federal government spent less than half as much on research and innovation in education.

Ask your elected representatives - now that you know all this - what changes should be made to current education legislation?

What does it all mean ? SHIFT HAPPENS.
Now you know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Poetry Reading

Some phrases
made us laugh and
the laughter seemed
uncomfortable
because, after all,
it was poetry.
Some of the words
were rooted in pain,
like a poem about
spontaneous abortion.
As blood and urine
were uttered, the
gray-haired woman
to my left frowned
and turned to
her gray-haired friend
wrinkling her nose.
Maybe everyone
does not love the ideas
if they are born of real life
as I do.
Then
there was a lull
in the reading and
my mind drifted away.
I looked down
at the diamond he gave me,
luminous
in the gallery spotlight
and thought about,
later,
making love with him.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Poetry

My poems have been published in six different journals so far. I sense that poetry is my strength, even though I am laboring through a second novel. It is difficult to do both. Writing a novel requires description and detail, and you can write hundreds of pages to your satisfaction. Whereas the skill in writing poetry is to tell the most in the briefest way, to edit to only the most crucial words and still retain the essence of the poem. Many writers do both, but a complete shift in creative thinking is necessary and I have trouble switching gears! When I'm doing one I miss the other.


I didn't start writing poetry until I was in my thirties and I only started sending them out a couple years ago. My first poems came completely as a surprise to me. I did not read poetry and I knew nothing about poetry. It just started flowing out of my emotions and into my pen. I stayed up nights searching for words to express my angst. A little navy notebook full of ideas and words went everywhere with me. I had no intentions of sharing any of my poems as they were just an exercise in catharsis. When I did share some of them with a man I was dating he said they frightened him and he thought I was crazy. That didn't discourage me. I liked the fact that they had the power to make someone think that. I liked that the poems weren't ordinary. They were unique - good or bad - they were me.


In time I took classes and got feedback from very successful poets and learned what was considered "good" poetry. I attempt to write "good" poetry, but I do not censor myself. The words that enter my mind, and the ideas the poems convey, I believe, are coming from a sacred and personal place inside of me, and it's distasteful to me to consider them "wrong".


I do understand, however, that poems are not meant to be platforms for opinions or lectures. They are not meant to tell the reader something as much as they convey a brief slice of life, and hopefully something the reader can relate to. ( I do have an entire notebook full of poems that probably only I can relate to - I keep those to myself. . .)


Publications are each looking for different types of poems and you must send your offerings in accordance with what they are looking for or you're just wasting your time. There are hard and fast rules to submitting your work, such as - always enclose a self-addressed-stamped-envelope. I recently sent some out and forgot to include my SASE. I got a snotty reply by email saying my poems were in the trash because of that. I wrote back and said that I simply forgot, I was not a poetry ignoramous, and in the time she sent her snotty reply by email she could have actually read the poems. (I didn't use the word snotty though).


I've posted about 10 poems so far on this blog - often the ones that might not have any other home. Let me know what you think sometime.
Poetry is a language at its most distilled and most powerful. Rita Dove
All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. Oscar Wilde

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Life

Life's a pudding full of plums.
Life's a canker that benumbs.
Wherefore waste our elocution
on impossible solution?
Life's a pleasant institution,
let us take it as it comes.

W.S. Gilbert

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

My Psalm (after Rainer Maria Rilke)

I need nothing
to prove Your existance.
Without my eyes I could still see You.
Without my ears I could still hear Your music.
When my heart's pulse if finally stilled
my soul will be flooded with You.
I need no proof,
yet when I see the heavens
I glimpse my insignificance and brevity
in this place.

You have the power to give breath or shut the sky.
You allow us to know what you want us to know
and nothing more.
I can rest in this.
If we knew all Your flawless glory
we'd need you no more.
My awareness of You comes in
the silence of my days,
but Your mindfulness of me has
no beginning or end.

Your love lives in my hunger for You,
and it is fulfilled in Your time.
Others speak and write of the last days,
but I don't care, it's in Your hands.
To prepare for the end is not to live the days You've given.
To choose for You is to diminish Your power.
I brought nothing to this world,
I will take nothing but Your love.
What we yearn for has not yet happened.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things That Are Just Wrong

1. Using the Hallelujah Chorus in a toilet paper commercial.

2. The phrase "you guys." (I give all food servers permission to look at my chest to
verify-not a guy)

3. Garden hoses (Entangled the way only I can)

4. Egg nog

5. Ohio School Funding (wrong and unconstitutional.)

6. Mucus

7. The baby in the Family Guy.

8. Landscape trucks parked in the street blocking traffic.

9. Paper cuts

10. Celine Dion

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Loss and Gain

I didn't know a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow could make me cry.

Loss and Gain

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days havebeen idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

Friday, November 16, 2007

After an Orchid

moth orchid
fairy girl
spreads her green, hairy-speckled wings
below a white lime-streaked halo
reaching out of her stem
budtips misty with light
her full cup below
the quivering roots
grow until her wings
explode off of her core
and lay at her spidery feet
in a single orgasmic
moment

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All Good Gifts

Many people think of talents and gifts only in the realm of the creative arts - acting, singing, dancing, painting, writing, playing an instrument. The longer I've lived, the more gifts I see in the people around me. It is my firm belief that we are to use everything we are given. I have a limited amount of talent in a few of the creative arts and the people who have been exposed to them have been generous in their praise and attention. I never felt compelled to do any of them for attention - it was just me being me. It's hard for me to call myself a writer because I came to this passion quite late. My husband has said that I've reinvented myself - and I love that. I love the freedom to reinvent myself and expand on or redefine my former self-image. As long as we live we are able to discover new things about ourselves - and then use them.

Madeleine L'engle, the wonderful writer, recently passed away. She wrote the classic children's book - A Wrinkle in Time and many others. She says: "The writer does want to be published; the painter urgently hopes that someone will see the finished canvas - the composer needs his music to be heard. Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work had been stillborn."

"We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing. And during the writing of the story or the painting or the composing or singing or playing we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children. We cannot be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe which we had as children. An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith."

But I think this sentiment applies to much more than the arts. I work with a teacher who has such a big and open heart that she makes every child she comes in contact with feel respected and important. I work with a principal who takes the time to hear out every child's side of the story in the middle of a problem. I've known pastors who would get up in the middle of the night to help a family in crisis. During a crisis in my life a long time ago someone sent me a large potted plant anonymously, and in an envelope was $1000 in cash - which helped me pay the mortgage and buy groceries. A neighbor recently picked up the car I crunched into a cement pole - he fixed it and brought it back to me and took the insurance amount. Some people garden and grow beautiful flowers and vegetables, some people sew unique clothing, some people are really good at being a friend, some cook amazing meals, some care for the sick. These are all gifts, all talents, all given to be enjoyed and used. So if you think you aren't "talented" think again. I spent too much of my life being afraid of not being humble enough and therefore did not always enjoy what God had given me. I know better now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thank you to my readers

Today I want to say thank you to the people who actually take the time to read this blog now and then. I know I'm not the most fascinating person in the world. Writers are, however, like children in school - the more positive attention we get for our work - the harder we'll try. So if you're out there, please leave a comment now and then or email me at diane.ferri@sbcglobal.net.

This thing is keeping my brain working and it's a daily challenge that I enjoy (the writing and the brain working). Sometimes life (or work) gets in the way and I may skip a day or two, but please check back soon.

I'll leave you with some quotes from another favorite author - Anne Lamott. If you haven't read Lamott, she is funny, real, at times irreverent, blatantly honest, liberal - and a real-life struggling, imperfect Christian.

"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch - you don't give up."

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates the same people you do."

God's everywhere. God's in the effort. God's in the struggle, whether that's for civil rights or creative expression. God's always in the struggle with us."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Coexist III - A Little Good News

Just when you think you don't ever want to hear another crime statistic - when you've read enough about the murder rate in Cleveland - when you're having nightmares about sending your children to school because they might be victims in a random school shooting - there's a little good news!

In my October 11th post I questioned why so many teenagers have access to guns. Today's Plain Dealer reported that more than 350 people showed up at the Convention Center to exchange their handguns for $100 gift cards to BP or Dave's Supermarket. The police collected 421 weapons. I call that good news. It just should have been on the front page, not back on B3.

Think about that for a minute. All of those people, at some point, decided it was necessary to own a gun. All of those people probably coughed up more than $100 to get the gun. But, given the opportunity and incentive, they changed their minds! Officials said they weren't surprised that 300 of the gift cards were gone in the first 90 minutes because they hadn't had a buyback in ten years. That begs the question - WHY NOT???

I loved the part of the article that described a man who "grinned from ear to ear when officers handed his wife a $100 gift card. 'I am moving from the 'hood to the Heights and not taking my gun.' " Let's see - spend $100 feeding your family and being able to drive to the grocery store - OR - own a gun that could kill one of them? Good choice.

If there were no stray bullets flying from a handgun as they flew through Slavic Village in September, Cookie Thomas and many other innocent children would still be here enjoying those groceries.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dominique


I think her name is Dominique, and her tender arms cannot cover all the injuries. Her happy hair cannot lift up all that weighs her down. The hunger that blisters within her is not for food - it is the cavernous void of a different life - the one she was supposed to have. Lipstick and mascara intact, safe in her frame, there is a nascent hope in the fragility of the morning light.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Flying Over Midnight

My first novel, which you can find a link to below, is Flying Over Midnight. It was a labor of love and, I now realize, a project in catharsis for me. It has a lot of poetry that is not meant to be "good poetry" but expands on the main character's feelings at that point.

Fly Me Over Midnight

I guess it was God
who clutched me
and flew me over midnight
into the breaking day.
My wounds of aberration
were irreversibly healing,
and when I looked up I saw
my tears were in his eyes.
Resurrecting what was lost in me
I acquiesce, I rest
in the whatever day.
The morning star falls on my head,
the balm leaking out fresh water
and salt water flow in tandem.
My lungs smile as I breathe.
I hear a song of songs:
I could not love you more
I could not love you less.
The exodus complete,
the bitter fruit candied to sweet.
Now when I fly over midnight
into the breaking day
I remember, I know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

My new favorite quote

"Not everything that steps out of line, and thus 'abnormal', must be necessarily inferior."
Hans Asperger

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Coexist II - Creatures of the Earth

I wonder why squirrels look so shocked to see a human in their path. You'd think by some evolutionary process they would collectively realize that we ignore them. Did you know that a squirrel without hair looks exactly like a rat - the only difference is that squirrels leap and hop and play - rats slink.

Here are some of my animal encounters: A bird got caught in the wall of my apartment. They had to cut a hole in the wall to get it out. A blackbird entered the kitchen of my first house through a gap in the aluminum siding. I was so panicked, having little children, that it took me forever to figure out I just had to open the door. That same luxury palace had raccoons yank back the shingles to get in the attic.

The next house was far from animal-proof as well. Raccoons came down the chimney and left tiny handprints in the fireplace. Luckily there were glass doors to keep them from joining us for dinner. That house was visited by a rat (I still shudder). It came through a basement drain and then through a hole by a radiator to feed on birdseed under the canary cage. We got a rat trap.

Now I live in a wooded area. My little 30 lb. dog, Stella, had a hostile encounter with a buck this summer. I imagine he was protecting a family in the woods. He stood firmly in the middle of the backyard as Stella charged towards him. As she moved under his belly, he reared up like a bucking horse while I screamed from the deck. Stella escaped unharmed, but shaken. Now she does not joyfully bark at a deer sighting, but growls, hair standing straight up on her back. She ran to the door upon seeing a coyote in the backyard last year.

I doubt when God created all living things, and gave humans dominion over the earth, that included culling deer as they do in our city. People chop down trees, bulldoze brush, pave, build and then shoot deer for looking for food in our yards. My belief is that nature will take its course and thin out the herd in time. I saw a deer start to cross the street this week, look both ways and turn back. Humans interfering in nature always messes up the balance.
Can't we all just coexist? :)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Creativity

There must be creative genius in using every tool you own for a project - or using every pot, pan, dish, and utensil in the house to cook a meal.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Happy Holiday Headaches (from too much thinking)

If you turned your television on at any time yesterday - November 1st - then you have been fairly warned that it that wonderful time of year to begin wasting your hard earned money and to be relentlessly bombarded with everything that has nothing to do with Christmas.

Our neighbors had their Christmas lights on Halloween night (complete with a sign advertising the business that did the decorating for them).

I am sad to report that outside of seeing family and friends and singing carols (in December) I dread just about all of it. There is nothing that remains of the wonder of Christmas except a Christmas Eve service to say - here is the mystery - come in and quiet your soul - remember.

The art of giving has been shredded into unrecognizable pieces - most shaped in the form of a small plastic rectangle. It's the thinking of something unique that wears me out! No one I know needs a shirt, or a bathrobe or a scarf. If they did, they would just hop on over to Target and buy one for $5.95. As a teenager and young adult I always gave homemade gifts- a painting, a crocheted afghan, a cross-stitch pillow, a hand-knit scarf. Not only are handcrafted gifts not in vogue - now they will just make you look cheap. (Where's my $100 itunes gift card?)

At Christmas time (again, in December) I will celebrate and treasure the birth of Jesus and the symbolism of giving gifts as God has given to us . Don't get me wrong. I want to give. Strangers I don't know need food, and shelter, and their children need toys - there are always causes to give to. But what do my loved ones need or even want? If I asked my parents I know all they would ask for would be more of my time, more hugs, more laughing together. My husband might want me to give more of myself too (you can take that how ever you want to). Those things I can do - but I still have to buy them a freakin' present . . . . don't I?