Italics

When we were children, my husband and I lived in different blocks on the same housing estate and attended the same infant and junior school, where we sat in separate desks in a classroom where we were taught by a teacher neither of us will ever forget. She was grey-haired and stern, wore a twin-set and pearls, and not only instilled in us a love of language and poetry, but also taught us to write in the italic style.

We started with straight lines and zig-zags: the straight lines slanted on top and the zig-zags had to be thin on the up-slant and thick on the down-slant. We learned the correct way to hold the pen, how to create the perfect curve, and how to join up the letters into words. The first pen belonged to the school and was wooden with a metal italic nib. We would dip the nib into an inkwell that was set in a hole in the desk. It was a messy process at first! Later, our parents had to purchase a pen, usually from manufacturers called Platinum and Osmiroid, but only plastic and functional. I used to love the fancier, heavier pens, with mottled patterns and stainless steel.

Italic handwriting
Image found on Pinterest

Our writing used to be very similar, a trace of our shared childhood, and my husband’s writing is still as neat as it used to be; it’s a little more rounded than it was, but still expressive and handsome. Because of age and some arthritis in my fingers, my handwriting has become a scrawl that sometimes even I can’t read. My fingers are more comfortable on a keyboard, but even then the letters and words get tangled up.

words are falling leaves
departing birds leave haiku
scribbled in the sky

Kim M. Russell, 2018

Haiku in the sky
Image found on Pinterest

My haibun for dVerse Poets Pub Haibun Monday: handwriting, also linked to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads Tuesday Platform

I’m hosting at the pub today and the theme is handwriting. Come on over and share your haibun. How did you learn to write? How has your handwriting changed over the years?  All you have to do is write no more than three tight paragraphs about communication through pen or pencil and paper, followed by a traditional Haiku that includes reference to a season.

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74 thoughts on “Italics

  1. I love your haiku. Lots of birds, tonight, I notice – is that something to do with the way they write across the sky? How lovely that you knew your husband when you were children – that’s really special. I type a lot, but I like to write sometimes because it slows me down, and keeps me in the moment.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. I agree about the birds – it could be the feather-quill thing that connects them to writing, as well as their shapes in the sky. I wish I could write more as I love the feel of a solid, heavy pen and the movement of it on the page.

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  2. What a wonderfulstory. I learned writing the same way except over here in the states, it is called cursive writing. Alas, children are only taught to print nowadays. And most of them write like they are 10 years old….But yyour haiku is breathtaking. Truly gorgeous. I love the way the birds spill.

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    1. Thank you, Toni. It’s the Great British Birdwatch this weekend and I won’t be here for it, which is a bummer as the birds are already starting to return. We have fresh fatballs in the feeders and there was an attempt at a dawn chorus this morning. Let the birds spill!

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      1. Oh yes! The birds except for the regulars have departed and not yet returned. I’ll know it is spring on the way when I see the tiny goldfinches still in their dull winter colors, slowly turning to gold. What a lovely event the Birdwatch must be!

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      2. It’s an hour of logging all the birds you see during that time for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. I sit in my study, where I have two large windows and get a full view.

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  3. I’m amazed that you have such a lovely history with your other half. Bravo for mastering italics at such a tender age. And welcome to my world of the computer. I love the birds leaving haiku in the sky👏👏👏
    Does the paraffin waxerox treatment help?

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    1. Thanks Viv! The paraffin wax treatment is great, especially straight after and for a couple of days, but then my fingers start to ache. The little finger on my left hand and the one next to it are mostly numb. Luckily, I’m right-handed, but my fingers start to ache from holding a pen in one position. With the keyboard, at least they are moving.

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      1. It sound like you need to do this treatment yourself at home so you can have a more permanent sort of relief…. I’m on the case (have to investigate for myself too…starting to get it as well). Take care 🙂

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  4. I remember this too Kim, the pens, the ink in the inkwell. I remember how words became scratched and blotchy as the nib became blunted or broken.
    I remember when in senior school we could write in whatever colour we wanted, these colours pulled from pens of various colours packaged in twelves.
    The written word is an art form and if writing something important, my writing is ruler neat – otherwise a scrawl that only I understand.
    Your Haiku is lovely!
    Anna :o]

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    1. Thank you so much Anna! Everyone wanted to write in different colours at our school too, but the teachers wouldn’t let us. These days children love to write with glitter pens! I have purple ink for my fountain pen but don’t use it as much as I’d like.

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  5. Your story, clinched by that marvelous haiku that took my breath away, is reminiscent of my own early learning experiences. The biggest challenge for me was and still is that, in using ink pens like that, this left-handed writer has such a hard time not dragging her hand through and smearing the ink. My handwriting has become my own, but still clearly shows evidence of the cursive style beat into us by the nuns!

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  6. Oh this is such an interesting story! Your haiku is gorgeous. I think we are so blessed to have had these opportunities for writing and it saddens me that it is not even taught in the schools anymore. Another lost art form and fine motor skill taken from children’s development.

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  7. Great post, Kym. I too started school and writing with inkwells and pens with split metal tips. We used the O.R. Peterson method. We started with Ovals, Continuous Ovals, and Push and Pulls. I struggled with handwriting. The D in my name did not help.
    Love your haiku … Prints in the sky just like prints in the snow! Very good.
    Dwight

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  8. So much have happened in such a short time … I believe no other generation has experienced so much changes. 🙂 My own beginning was the fountain pen. And I remember I was the last one in my class at school to be allowed to turn from fountain pen to ball point. Perhaps I was not very very occupied with writing neatly. Well. 🙂 I enjoyed your story, and the idea of words reaching for the sky. In that way we are not stars ourselves. 🙂

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  9. This is such a heartening write, Kim!❤ I am amazed to learn that you met your husband at such an early age! 🙂 I wish you both a world of happiness! Love that haiku… sigh.. absolutely stunning!❤

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  10. Thai took me back to school – sounds like our learning experience was similar. We learned the Peterson system of handwriting. Those pens were a big deal to a small child. Your Haiku fits perfectly.

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    1. Thank you, Candy. I just had my evening meal and am about to read more haibun before Poetics is up. I’ve enjoyed them all so far and am sure I’ll enjoy the rest. :).

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  11. We never had pens and inkwells. I learned “cursive”–I think towards the end of third grade, but we still used pencils. I can’t remember when we were allowed to use pens, but they were not fountain pens, and I’m sure we had to buy them ourselves. So you’ve known your husband since you were in what we would call elementary school? I met my husband when we were in 9th grade–then it was junior high. He asked me to the Christmas dance.

    Your haiku is stunning–I love the bird words. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Merril! I actually preferred a pencil but the teacher didn’t like us using them or erasers. We didn’t have Christmas dances or proms or anything like that back in the day. We would have both been too shy anyway. 🙂

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  12. so much to take from the haibun and the haiku floats like its made of air too. very beautiful sharing Kim, I am enchanted by the story of learning to write together from a young age and you see your husband’s handwriting mature but still remain so handsome. I recall learning to write like this with a Parker pen and I made a lot of mess too, filling it and learning not to squeeze too tight. I really felt part of your haibun, so tenderly written.

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  13. This is the coolest thing!

    “my husband’s writing is still as neat as it used to be; it’s a little more rounded than it was, but still expressive and handsome” … Swooning over this. 🙂

    “departing birds leave haiku
    scribbled in the sky” … I love this.

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  14. My thought for you, Kim, is “why do we still call it ‘writing’?”
    My school mate love (I’ve “written” of her) was pulled out by her Daddy and sent to a church school for the third grade on. She committed suicide at about age 20.
    ..

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    1. Oh, that is so sad, Jim. I do consider myself very lucky to have married my childhood sweetheart.
      I’ve been racking my brain as to another word for ‘writing’ and the only one I can think of is ‘composition’, which is rather a mouthful.

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  15. A lovely memory and I understand that you would have been encouraged to have similar styles, the style they tried to teach us was similar, it was a flick to join one letter with the next, my sister could do it perfectly I was always just a blotchy wibbly wobbly mess with no flick finesse.

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