Author Archives: Cheryl Crowley

No School, Now

The poem below, translated from Georgian, was written in 2018 in reference to conditions in Georgia. It was included in an email announcement from the Academy of American Poets.

As we get ready for the new academic year, I think of Afghan children and teachers, students and faculty. Things were already bad, but what will happen now?

Scholars at Risk has posted a petition calling for action to protect scholars in Afghanistan.

The Children of Beslan (To My Children)

Irakli Kakabadze

Today is the First of September and
As natural,
As the sun’s setting and rising,
The flowers’ budding and wilting,
The healing of open wounds,
And death.
This isn’t a school bell ringing,
It’s the bells of a church.
The mothers woke us up from our summer games,
But the fathers took our hands more sternly and
more proudly than never before.
The fathers left work for the market,
Carrying heavy bags and
All kinds of thoughts and rubbish
in their heads.
We left toys with wilted smiles on the beds,
Little sisters and brothers in the windows,
Grandmothers who had combed our hair and
Crossed us as we were leaving home,
To meet with God, or our first teachers.
Here, our empty, silent notebooks,
Here, our unopened books and flat, inanimate illustrations,
The red pens, which retain their strictness, but can’t express it,
A roster, read from the grade book with no answers,
Desks without purpose and
The boards, painted black,
On which is written our first, short history.
Here, our flowers for you, who
Were supposed to open the door of life’s wisdom for us,
But the flowers have chosen a better fate.
Again, light backpacks
Are hanging like crosses upon our weak shoulders and
White shirts—
Like sacrificial lambs, we make our way to the last class.
Don’t look at the road so often,
We won’t return from here,
We continued our summer games and
We are hiding behind September first.

Translated from the Georgian by Mary Childs

Sorrow beyond expression

As we watch the agony in Afghanistan, a poem by Nadia Anjuman نادیا انجمن‎ Though my posting this has no effect on this unfolding horror.


O sky, pour down on this burnt earth–
she is yearning for a drop of life’s rain
Her lips are dry, her heart on fire
It is like looking at death

O cloud, drift toward this scorched land
A thousand farmers watch for you
Come, for the emerald mountains of the city
have worn mourner’s clothes for ages

O water, O nature’s healer, please come
Your absence breaks the flowers’ hearts
The gardens have no strength left
Smiles have dried from lips

O lord, don’t let the farmer
die thirsty in the furnace of time
One drop is an eternal gift,
renewing the farmer’s weak hands

O lord, show pity to the sullen nomads
O lord, show favor to the anguished heart of the sea
O lord, to the spring’s burning lips
to the burnt deserts, pour relief of rain

We are shamed and broken servants
drowned in sin, in blinding darkness
O lord, don’t let us weaken further
Absolve us, though we earned this torment

Pour water on us, for we are in flames
Some water to wet the spring’s arid eye
This burning earth is your disciple’s bedroom
don’t let it reel into complete chaos

Asad 1379 / Summer 2000

From this site. Copyright (c) The Iranian Burnt Books Foundation, 2007. English translation copyright (c) Diana Arterian and Marina Omar, 2015.

Emory EAC: Yasukuni

Reposting this from Emory’s student-run East Asia Collective Newsletter:

China and South Korea Blast Japan’s Defense Minister

China and South Korea on Friday blasted Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi’s visit to the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. Kishi paid his respects at the shrine for war dead that is seen by neighboring countries as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism, two days before the anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War Two. Nearly eight decades after the end of the war, Yasukuni remains a potent symbol of the wartime legacy in East Asia and a flashpoint for tension with China and both Koreas. Among those honored at the shrine are 14 World War Two leaders convicted as “Class A” war criminals by an Allied tribunal in 1948.

Given Kishi’s visit, China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition, saying that Kishi’s act reflects “Japan’s wrong attitude toward its history of aggression and its sinister intention to challenge the postwar international order.” Lee Sang-ryol, South Korean Foreign Ministry’s director-general for Asian and Pacific affairs, also criticizes Kishi’s act as it damages the trust between the two countries. Lee summoned Naoki Kumagai, deputy chief of mission at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, to lodge a protest, urging Japanese leaders to reflect on past wrongdoings and demonstrate their sincerity by their action.

Read more:

Teaching and remembering

A graph comparing the level of memory falloff right after class, then 24 hours, one week, and one month afterwards

Forgetting Curve. From the article in ICE Blog linked to below:

I have been doing a little bit of reading recently about how people learn and remember what they’ve learned. I’m going to try to implement some of these this semester in class. The links below list some resources that explain and support various theories about learning, particularly spaced repetition. Spaced repetition is not that radical an idea so it should be possible to put into practice. 

Ordinarily it’s difficult for both students and myself as an instructor because there is no spontaneous inclination to use it.That is, often it seems that students want to learn the new thing, and then move onto the next new thing because it gives them a sense of accomplishment. To implement this I will have to build it into my class plans. I will need to identify, say, three keywords or concepts that are the essence of a particular lesson, and start and end with them; then go back to the next week for a minute or two. After a while I could maybe ask one student in the class to be the responsible person for that session — ask them to identify the keywords that day, and share them with the rest of the class.

Another thing I often hear is that it’s really important to create some kind of immersive experience. It’s very common for teaching experts to emphasize that students learn by doing, not by being lectured to. It’s hard to dispute that. However that takes a bit of just-in-time planning on the part of the instructor, and certainly a lot of effort on the part of the student that maybe they’d rather not make, but I think that is going to be my goal this time.

Amid the horrors of the global health crisis, there has been a small benefit: the need/opportunity to learn about different teaching tools and methods. I hope that I can use some of what I’ve learned this semester, as we (I hope) go back to F2F learning.

ICE Repetition Theory

Andy Matuschak


Universe of Memory: Common Language Learning Mistakes

Letters 1: Buson 1751

The first in an occasional series of translations of letters. Let’s start with some practice. This is review, but I read it such a long time ago it’s like looking at it for the first time.

To: OOya Yohachi, OO Sawaragichô, Kyoto.

Kindly use the above address. Paste this letter on your wall. Do not forget.

Please get some works of calligraphy by Hirabayashi [Seisai] 平林静斎: either as single phrases, or as two or three couplets. I would like to hang them in the studio here. Other than that,  I have had an urgent request from a person of taste. I hope that, thanks to you, one way or another I may get two or three of these. It is a once-in-a-lifetime request. Please permit me to send as a token of gratitude a painting of Daikoku. I have gone for sightseeing to various places all around Kyoto, and spent a pretty interesting time. Some time ago I visited Fushimi and stayed there for a while.

When I think of you going out for night dancing I laugh to myself. I write haikai occasionally. I am still pretty busy, and there hasn’t been any time to pause.  For the next a couple of years as I become more familiar with the place, if there is anything interesting I will let you know, so please look forward to it. More than anything, without fail, I ask your help with Hirabayashi’s work. I really, really can’t wait to receive it.

Watching mandarin ducks

all the glamor has been used up
by the mandarin ducks —
winter trees

oshidori ni bi wo tsukushite ya fuyukodachi

     There is a lot more to say, but I omit it here. How is Denkô 田洪 in Yûki? I miss the place.

Second day of the eleventh month (1751? to 桃彦?)

Tricky epistolary forms:

御登可被下候 おのぼせくださるべくそうろう Please send [to the capital]
被差置  さしおかれ [Please] affix it
御もらひ可被下候 Please get/receive
申度候 I want [to do something]
拝裁奉願候 はいたいねがいたてまつりそうろう I humbly ask to benefit from you doing [this]
相下可申候 あいくだしもうすべくそうろう Please allow me to [do something]
仕候 つかまつり I do/make [whatever]
罷有候 まかりありそうろう [just plain old] ある
奉頼候 たのみたてまつり I humbly ask
相待申候 あいまちもうし I am awaiting/looking forward to

The source is Buson no tegami 蕪村の手紙, Tomotsugu Muramatsu 村松友次, Taishūkan Shoten, 1997, ISBN-13 9784469220780

I also used this nice webpage from ブログ俳諧鑑賞,