"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

I played Jan. 30's episode of The Writer's Almanac for my students this morning as a journaling prompt. It features a poem by Raymond Carver called "At Least."

As soon as the opening music began, I felt a rush of nostalgia.

I used to listen to the show religiously. When I was in grad school, it would air on my way home from dropping Anna off at daycare every morning. When I started working, it would come on as I parked my car. Often I'd sit in the parking lot to finish the segment.

I'm not a die-hard Garrison Keillor fan, but there is something really wonderful about hearing the same gravelly voice every morning, telling me it's the birthday of some cultural icon and the anniversary of a historical event. And there is also something a little magical about starting off the day with a poem.

I don't think it's too much of an exaggeration to call The Writer's Almanac a conveyor of (a certain brand of American) cultural literacy. The show introduced me to so many once-foreign names and unheard-of events. And it made poetry an everyday part of my life. Not bad for a five minute segment!  

I told my students they may not "get" it now, but my hope as an English teacher is that they one day will.

(Incidentally, they really liked the Raymond Carver poem. One student says it reminds her of how she feels every time she runs through the pineapple fields.)