Friday, July 30, 2010

Tweets in Harmony

This is a plea for help from some tweeting poets!

At the end of October, the Australian National University Choral Society is performing a concert at the National Library of Australia. The concert consists of American and Australian choral pieces, dealing with the themes of migration, journeys by sea, and the mixing of cultures. We're performing a new work, Freedom of the Sea by Ruth Lee Martin especially written for us setting poetry by Canberra writer Alan Gould; Anne Boyd's As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams; Cloudburst by American composer Eric Whitacre; some nineteenth-century ballads from the Library's collection of early Australian sheet music; and some Negro spirituals.

We're also doing a new work by me.  Here's were the plea comes in.

The sea has always functioned to connect, and to separate.  This is the thread that connects all the pieces in the concert.  Without wanting to seem too poncey, it strikes me that in some ways the twenty-first century the twitterverse is a "sea", with messages in bottles pinging around the worlds electronic oceans, connecting us yet reminding us of our separation.  To receive a "letter from home", from England, in the 1820s took six months.  Now I can read a tweet from Devon in milliseconds.  But has all that much changed?

So I decided that my piece would be a setting of tweets from around the world; micropoems exploring the ideas of migration, distance, journeys ....

Partly, the idea came to me when I read a tweeted poem of David Merrylees that I really love.  It's this haiku:

park bench, names carved deep
this place, distant voices float 
silver strand of brogue

I've asked David if I can use his poem in my piece; it captures exactly what I'm looking for.

So, I'm interested in receiving poems of 140 characters or less on the themes I have mentioned: migration, sea voyages, separated families, distance, oceans.  For structural reasons I won't go into, the poem needs to contain at least one of these words: sea, strand, ocean, ship, waves, journey, float, home.

Oh, and please tweet them!  Tweet them @jonpowles if they fit; if not, tweet them and copy them here as a comment.  But I want to know they are actual genuine messages in bottles that have really been set loose on the twitter sea ...

If I have your permission, I'll then set them to music.  You'll get full acknowledgement as author, of course :-)



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Indicators of Educational Quality

Finally, here's a reference to and abstract of a thoughtful paper which explores the competing notions of quality, and therefore its measurement, in Higher Education:

Tam, Maureen, "Measuring Quality and Performance in Higher Education" Quality in Higher Education 7/I, 2001, 47-54

The main argument of this paper emanates from an understanding that 'quality' is a highly contested concept and has multiple meanings to people who conceive higher education and quality differently. This paper attempts to analyse ways of thinking about higher education and quality; consider their relevance to the measurement of performance of universities and colleges; and explore their implications for the selection of criteria, approaches and methods for the assurance of quality in higher education. This paper also investigates various models of measuring quality in higher education, consider their value and discuss both their shortcomings and contributions to the assessment of higher education institutions. These models include the simple 'production model', which depicts a direct relationship between inputs and outputs; the 'value-added approach', which measures the gain by students before and after they receive higher education; and the 'total quality experience approach' which aims to capture the entire learning experience undergone by students during their years in universities or colleges.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I hate haiku. I really do. It's not so much a dislike, as an abiding abhorrence:

The autumn lark calls
Cherry blossoms gently fall
And my gorge rises

You find Nirvana
In seventeen syllables?
You need to get laid

A waterfowl take wing
Over a still summer lake
BANG! There's my dinner