Where Does Your World Begin?

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This Thanksgiving week, 2019, I have been thinking of the students I have known over so many decades, of their triumphs and tribulations, and of their writing, so often, about things that matter deeply to them. And I have been giving thanks for every one of them, and for every one of their teachers. This is a week to name our blessings, to count up and write down what we are thankful for.


In addition to students and their teachers, I added to my list:

  • The moon, sun, and starlight
  • The redwood fairy circle near my home
  • The lapping of waves in my little cove
  • The smell of bread from the oven
  • The voices of my beloved family and friends, often far away

My list goes on and on, as I realize how very fortunate I am to be alive, to be able to work at my local food bank and volunteer at our arts center, and to walk along the ocean bluff and listen to birds who seem to be singing just to me.


I’m also grateful for language, for writing, for the ability to communicate with one another, and, this week especially, for poetry. I am grateful for our United States poet laureate, Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee/Creek nation and a consummate artist. You may know her poem “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” in which she gives thanks for the kitchen table. “The world begins at the kitchen table,” she writes. “No matter what, we must eat to live. / The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on. / . . . At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks. . . .”


Perhaps all of our worlds, as Harjo says, begin at the kitchen table. I hope your table is sturdy, laden with good foods, and surrounded by good friends.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo Credit: Pixabay Image 3719247 by JillWellington, used under the Pixabay License

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.