toysI like toys. In my office where I teach, I have toys from cereal boxes and some from my daughter’s early life–like the Oz scene with a hidden wizard–you just have to open a small door to find him. The toys line my desk and maybe they’re a reminder to anyone who visits me that playfulness is essential when you write. I’ve got a couple of action figures and I don’t know where I got Rescue Surfer, but he’s a big beefy guy ready to hit the water. A couple of martians, a female extra terrestrial and a woman who turns blue look out to the Boston Common with me. Sometimes I take a couple of toys into the classroom and give one away as a prize. I had one student who wanted to win every single prize. She really got worked up wanting those toys. She could have walked down the street and gotten herself a wheel barrow full of Happy Meal toys but she wanted the prize sitting on the table–maybe it was a fortune teller or a whale flashlight. She wanted that toy the way some people want to rule the world. The best toy I ever gave out was a gyroscope I had assembled at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago to my specifications. Stamped into the luminous plastic were the words: The Prize.

essay copyright, lise haines

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  1. Love the idea of giving toys to students– so true about playfulness and writing; one MFA writing program teacher said that was the one and only thing he wanted to teach us– to ‘be playful’ in our works… Hard to pick a favorite toy but mine was a doll named Penny Bright; I could not sleep Christmas eve longing for her; I carried her around all Christmas day. That’s all I remember of Penny Bright & our brief but intense love affair…