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Composing Ourselves: Sonnets about Teaching Composition on the U.S.-Mexico Border

Koch, Randy

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ISBN 10: 156474387X / ISBN 13: 9781564743879
Published by Fithian, Santa Barbara, CA, 2002
Used Condition: Book: Very Good Soft cover
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76 pp. 6 x 9. Glossy red wraps. No damage or markings noted. Bookseller Inventory # 108120

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Composing Ourselves: Sonnets about Teaching ...

Publisher: Fithian, Santa Barbara, CA

Publication Date: 2002

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Book: Very Good

About this title


Composing Ourselves: Sonnets about Teaching Composition on the U.S.-Mexico Border, by Koch, Randy

From the Publisher:


Composing Ourselves, a highly entertaining and moving collection, is subtitled Sonnets About Teaching Composition on the U.S.-Mexico Border, which tells exactly what all of these poems are about: education, good writing, and the bicultural, bilingual community of students in Laredo, Texas. Randy Koch has recorded his experiences in the form of a diary of sonnets. By the end of the book we know a lot more about teaching, the student-teacher relationship, the pleasures of the English language and the art of writing, and the culture gap between Anglos and Hispanics. In addition, the poems are a great pleasure to read. Some are funny, some sad, some worried, some joyful, most of them passionate, and all of them compassionate. The author clearly cares for his students, just as he cares for the craft of communication.

Some of the poems focus on the students themselves: their troubles, domestic bruises, pregnancies, attitudes, laughter, excuses, and their resistance to and pleasure in learning. In these sonnets, which read like epiphanal short stories, we learn the students’ names and personalities. Some of the poems poke fun, but overall they’re full of respect and concern.

Others reveal the teaching life, full of rewards, hard work, and difficulty. They show the drudgery of grading essays, the frustrations of late papers and late-arriving students, and the satisfaction of seeing students succeed and learn. The poems are autobiographical, and clearly this teacher/poet enjoys his work. Even the monotonous parts of the job become pleasure as he turns them into humorous anecdotes and adventures. A recurring motif is the teacher’s sidekick, a skeleton who is present at every class and reminds us of the structure of good writing.

And good writing is a large part of what this poetry book is about. Randy Koch tries to sell his students on the proper use of a colon, the strength of active verbs, the value of topic sentences and outlines, and the “morality of conciseness.” We who read these poems are reminded of these important principles and hope his students are paying attention.

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