AJM Smith & Tim Berners-Lee

The onomatopoeia in “Sea Cliff” by AJM Smith speaks for me this week as I watch the flood waters recede over the granite dams in my town. Smith wrote his poem in 1943, but I don’t know where he was when he wrote it; his haunts were his native Montreal, Edinburgh and later Lansing. The poem makes me alert to the power of what I see and sense, even though the water he was speaking about I am sure is much more grand that our river here.

I was looking to see if I could find out where he was when he wrote it when I meanderd away from my question like a child meanders after a kitten. I was looking for a link to post about Smith in my del.icio.us, but when I got to my del.icio.us someone in my network had saved an Inc. link for me on innovation. In that, Tim Berners-Lee was mentioned in the article “How to Think About Innovation” as The Inventor of the World Wide Web, so I had to follow that bunny trail – I have always felt a bit bad for poor Al Gore who can never live down his slip of the tongue about inventing the internet. But I read far enough to notice this bit of interesting inventor psychology:
“Lead users, by the way, can either be someone who uses your products all the time and intensely, or they can be people who use other products intensely, but borrow, in some fashion, the features or functionality of your products. For example, Von Hippel notes that windsurfers took existing sports gear and reengineered it to create a new sport. Sporting goods manufacturers were then able to make products that supported these lead users. Thus, a whole new industry was created. The lesson for business owners: ask your customers if they customize your products themselves, and look to those custom changes for inspiration for new products or product features.”

That paragraph was one I wanted to share with two of my students who are doing research on the evolution of the skateboard and of skateboarding culture. But Berners-Lee had a link to the Virtual Library so I followed that. I wanted to see what the education section had in it, so I clicked on education, then secondary, then perused and noticed one of the sites I had found on my own: Achieve Online: Education resources for Australian students and teachers. I found, sadly, that it had closed down due to lack of resources.

In a matter of minutes I had learned so much, including learning about Anne Compton’s focused assessment of Smith’s nature poetry:
“For Smith, nature does not mirror the human. The only connection between the two is that which occurs when the senses are open and the intellect comprehends.”

Compton also discussed “The Creek,” which I was able to add to my collection:

still wet with cold black earth,
roots, whips of roots
and wisps of straw,
green soaked crushed leaves
mudsoiled where hoof has touched them,
twisted grass
and hairs of herbs
that lip the ledge of the stream’s edge:


I eventually wound up where I was headed, and it was an interesting journey. From “Sea Cliff:”

after the ebb-flow,

wet rock,
high over the slapping green,
water sliding away
and the rock abiding,
new rock riding
out of the spray.


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Filed under Keystrokes, Literature

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