Skip to main content

String too short to be saved

Once as I was looking through the bookshelves of an old friend, I stumbled upon a book by American poet Donald Hall. The book was titled String Too Short To Be Saved. He prefaced the book by explaining that as he explored his mother's attic, he found a box with her neat handwriting on the label: String too short to be saved. Later I read that this moved Joan Didion and Ralph Fletcher as much as it moved me. It's these details about life, the small pieces that seem to amount to nothing that will add up to something later when they are connected with other small bits. Like Hall's mother, I save these bits--no, not the stuff, I hate stuff--these words that seem to amount to nothing. They are the words that will bring my pieces to life. Instead of a shoebox in the attic, I keep them in my notebook because you just never know.


  1. I love the idea of string too short to be saved. Hall's poem is a perfect example of those small moments gathered up to create something. Sometimes I forget to notice much less gather up those moments to save, but I'm getting better.

  2. I love that book String Too Short To Be Saved, have given it to friends several times. Now you've reminded me how wonderful it is, Kimberley. I love that line "carrying my cup twenty feet'. Thanks for sharing the book & the poem!

  3. I love that! The little details are what make a poem, always, I think.

  4. Kimberly, I found a note written in my mother's handwriting tucked inside a small matchbox from her honeymoon when decorating the Christmas tree. I loved the fact that she was with me in spirit and that her legacy lives on each time I look at one of her magnificent handiwork that adorns some antique ornaments. Your post reminded me of this. The small moments of life are worth preserving in our thoughts.

  5. I want the story behind that globe, that bundle...

  6. The Boston Globe out of a bundle of them.

  7. I like the idea of collecting words like bits of string -- you will put all the pieces together someday!

  8. I often struggle to fit together "small pieces" when I am writing. Both in memory and in coming up with the right words. Now that seems okay, somehow. Thanks for the validation, Kimberly, and this glimpse at Donald Hall's old life.

  9. Blueberry bagels and "lifelong engagement with the one task and desire" - how resolute, how committed, so beautiful. And collecting tidbits of words, with the idea of stringing them together in the future also shows that steadfastness and faith in words.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

5 Ways to Help Gifted Kids Find Their Gifts

When I work with gifted kids, I'm amazed by their lack of understanding about what interests them. They know how to surf the net exhaustively for Youtube videos that make them laugh, but not what skills and practices further their interests.

Developing interests and passions is critical to these students. Many people out there tell me that this is not just for gifted kids, that their average developing child needs to know how to do this too. While of course I agree that this is true, I also think that typical academic, fine arts, and sports programs are available in most communities are enough to engage and motivate most kids. Not true of gifted children who become jaded, disinterested, and shut down quickly when a program doesn't meet their needs.
Most people think of gifted students as being prodigies who know exactly where their gifts lie. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I often question if some children who are identified as gifted will ever find thei…

Writing Short, Day 1

I've taken a new position. I'm now an editor and writer at a company called We Are Teachers. I do some article writing for them, but I also write very short pieces designed for emails or giveaways. I didn't think I'd like this kind of work, but I do! It brings me back to the importance of knowing how to write short. I've talked about this before, but here's the book I'm referencing:
And thank you, Roy Peter Clark, for soothing my guilt about writing specifically for the Tweet. In “How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times,” this amazing writer praises Twitter’s 140-character limit as a tool for “intelligent cutting.”
So, as a way to get better at my new craft, I'm re-reading his book and actually doing the activities at the end of each chapter. The first: Practice writing plain sentences that contain a grace note, one interesting word that stands out. ___________________________________________
As did Proteus, I move forward into change. I figure, I …

DigiLit Sunday: Relationships

In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf..

On Sunday, I interviewed a woman named Julie Lindsay. She lives in Australia and started a company called Flat Connections. Her message to me was that Web 2.0 tools have changed the face of education. It brought the walls down so that we could all reach each other.

On  Monday, I read a book by Pernille Ripp, a teacher living in Wisconsin. In Reimagining Literacy through Global Connections, Ripp's message to me was to keep it simple when going global, the students just need to know they can connect and share who they are.

On Tuesday, I voxed Julieanne Harmatz. "Let's do this!" I said. "I've got a fourth grade, you've got a fifth. Mine is in Maine, yours is in California. Let's read together and share thoughts." She agreed.

On Wednesday, Julieanne emailed suggestions for three books she had multiple copies of. I book talked them to my students that afternoon.

On Thursday, I worked online with…