Posts by Ben Darby

Thoughts Had While Reading Désirée’s Baby

Posted on December 7, 2015

Compassion and empathy are only possible when there exists in the self a modicum of self-love.   Imperious Armand loathes himself, therefore he cannot be kind to his slaves and he seems fated to cruelly reject Désirée and the baby. As a society, we still think of blackness as a taint. While it’s nice to suppose that Désirée walked out into the bayou with the baby and survived, her errand was probably one of insensate desperation.  It’s likely both died. As Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?”  The Aubigny family is revered in Louisiana as landed gentry types; their name carries cultural cachet.  Why do we ascribe so much significance to names and lineages? Was Désirée a little too innocent and unassuming to…

Of an Afternoon

Posted on August 30, 2014

While I am trying to write this poem, Supine on a florid couch  With laptop inertly pressed against  My belly, my dog insists upon  Licking my hands, gently  But persistently nudging her snout  Between my fingers and the keyboard.   Her tongue, like a wet fruit roll-up, Slips its red circumflex around my knuckles. I try to shoo her away– Tell her that daddy is writing– While passionate violins hum  From the tinny laptop speakers And the fan slowly churns the Dry August air above my head.   This is an afternoon I will never get back. I know this like I know any other fact: The dates of the Civil War, the major writers Of the Harlem Renaissance, or how many Players can…

June, July, August

Posted on June 9, 2014

Summer is here! I’m basking in the glow of few responsibilities and playoff basketball. In the popular vernacular, I “survived” my first year of teaching. If you have friends on Facebook who are similar to the friends I have on Facebook, you might have seen them post THIS specious “news” article about a Chinese miner who supposedly survived 17 years buried underground, surviving on a diet of rice and rats and painstakingly burying 78 of his colleagues, only to be rediscovered and escape his subterranean purgatory. Well, the story is a hoax (check your sources, students), but the experience of reemerging into the daylight of human civilization is similar to how I feel. I have time to read for pleasure? I can pursue hobbies…

Stuff English Teachers Like

Posted on January 6, 2014

I made this (or some version of this) into a video which I will embed below.  Sorry for being an insufferable ham.



Calling Movies “Films”

English teachers love calling movies “films.”  The word “movie” is too low-brow.  Heck, even the word “word” is too low-brow (we prefer term).  But seriously, calling something a “film” elevates it to a position of high art, distinguishing it from the baser forms of “entertainment” (I’m looking at you, Toddlers and Tiaras).  Plus, if you’re an English teacher, you never go to “the movies”–you go to “the cinema.”


English teachers (and hipsters) REALLY seem to like irony.  We can spot it from a mile away, and when our irony radar is piqued, we get a knowing, half-smile on our face, as if to suggest, “yeah, I get why the actual meaning of this and/or these events is not the same as what is being portrayed and/or expressed and is therefore ironic.”  Unlike hipsters, however, English teachers never plan their Halloween costumes around irony.  We would never, for instance, dress as a plunging stock market graph and say we were Miley Cyrus’ net worth after her performance at the VMA’s.  Nah.  There are too many awesome characters from literature to dress up as.

The Slash

That old time punctuational equivalent of the comparatively cumbersome “or,” the slash, is a favorite amongst English teachers.  (Side note: using amongst instead of among = an English teacherism.)  The slash lets English teachers pepper in choice into an otherwise straightforward sentence.  I want to be able to choose my favorite adjectives, adverbs, and conjunctions, just like I want to choose my favorite cereal at the grocery store–a tossup between Honey Nut Cheerios/Oatmeal Squares/Kashi/Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Going to Starbucks and Bringing Only a Book

In this age of hyperconnected Insta-facing and Snap-clapping, bringing a book (and only a book) to Starbucks seems downright suspicious.  Yes, I see you over there tweeting from behind your venti double shot of expresso seasonal latte about the weirdo with the book.  I am READING.  Deal with it.

Making Lists and Being Self-Referential

This article an example of a list.  The fact that I’m including “making lists” into a list is an example of being self-referential.  But seriously, English teaches like making all kinds of list, not just to-do lists.  Yesterday, I made a list of the top-five sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.  A little over a week ago, I made a list of potential jobs that I am qualified for besides teaching English.  It was a very short list.

Unconventional Fashion Choices

English teachers don’t have a monopoly on dapper dressing, but strange patterns and sartorial frippery seem to show up on English teachers like lichens on the northern side of tree trunks.  We’re like birds of paradise (to adopt another nature simile), parading around in multihued splendor while making weird sounds and bizarre gestures.  But really, we do it all for your benefit, dear students.  Earth tones are boring, and we don’t want you losing interest in all the knowledge we have to impart; we clash because we care.

The Late-Summer, Low-Humidity, Rapidly-Approaching-Fall Daze

Posted on July 26, 2013

So . . . YAY!  I have procured a fulltime, bonafide, virtually ideal teaching position!  By starting this entry with good news, then segueing into a pseudo-apology for my lack of attention to this blog (all the while implying that the reasons for my absence were understandable and even laudable, given that I was engaged in an epic job search which consumed my every waking moment), I hope to deflect, pacify, and ameliorate any harsh feelings that you, the casual–and perhaps imaginary–reader, might have toward me.  So, sorry for not writing.  But YAY! I will be teaching 11th and 12th grade English next year at a small, co-ed Catholic school.  Terror, excitement, and a deep-seated fear of proving inadequate sum up my emotional state.…